CON Marnane has added his voice to those who were left puzzled and disappointed by the enforced withdrawal of intended runners from the Breeders’ Cup following veterinary inspections.

Marnane is the part-owner of Givemethebeatboys, who was due to run in the Juvenile Turf Sprint a fortnight ago until the horse was scratched by the on-course vets. The horse’s trainer Jessica Harrington was openly critical of the decision and criticised aspects of the trot-up procedure.

Aidan O’Brien also saw his top two-year-old River Tiber taken out of the Juvenile Turf by the raceday vets, a decision the trainer accepted though he felt the horse was sound.

Marnane was at Santa Anita and he told The Irish Field: “I am sorry for the followers of this horse, the Harringtons and ourselves. It’s incredibly disappointing. This horse is treated like a king. He has brought so much joy to so many people. It was like being hit by a train. They just said ‘No, he’s out’ and that was that.

“I must say the organisers of the Breeders’ Cup looked after us so well when we were over there. We were left wanting for nothing. They just need to get this vetting issue sorted. They gave him an unbelievably hard vetting. They trotted him up 30 times. Even on the last trot, he was like a ballet dancer. He trotted up on his last trot better than he did on his first one. We cannot get our heads around how they came to the decision that they did.”

A leading buyer and vendor on the European bloodstock sales scene for 40 years, Marnane added: “I have seen an awful lot of vetting procedures and I know when a horse is not right. I couldn’t see anything wrong with him. Jessica Harrington is one of the greatest horsewomen in the world and she could not understand how they could rule out the horse. There were a lot of other top horsemen over there that couldn’t believe it either.

“He is home in Tipperary now for his holidays. He is completely sound, no issues whatsoever with travel or anything like that.”

Marnane, who bought Givemethebeatboys for €11,000 as a yearling and sold him to Bronsan Racing for £1.1 million before buying back a share, is very excited about the colt’s three-year-old season.

“Royal Ascot will be the aim. He is such a good, consistent and powerful horse. Please God, he will be a very good three-year-old. That’s the plan anyway. We will dream away now for the winter and, fingers crossed, we will have a very good horse next year.”

In response to queries from The Irish Field, a spokesperson for the Breeders’ Cup defended the pre-race checks system.

“This was not the first year that Breeders’ Cup conducted thorough pre-race vet examinations," the spokesperson said. "The Breeders’ Cup always puts safety first for both our human and equine athletes, and our best-in-class veterinary protocols have long focused on ensuring we administer the safest races possible during the World Championships. Physical pre-race screening by the Breeders’ Cup Veterinary Team, in cooperation with veterinarians from the local regulatory body and the host track, has been a key component of that process for quite some time.

“Every contender entered in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships is physically examined by members of our Veterinary Teams, who work with each contender’s attending veterinarians to determine the best approach with the safety of the horse in mind. As always, the final determination on any scratch is made by the local regulatory body, in this case the California Horse Racing Board.

“We are confident these well-developed protocols were appropriately applied in each of the scratches that occurred during the 2023 event – and we are proud that these procedures helped ensure two days of very safe racing.”

Asked if the location used for the inspections was suitable, the spokesperson said: “Breeders’ Cup contenders are observed by veterinarians in two separate areas. All contenders are subject to a mandatory jog-up exam under a rider for multiple days during training over the flat dirt racing surface in the lead up to the World Championships. This gives veterinarians the opportunity to watch each contender move over the surface while carrying weight.

“In the stable area, in-hand jog-ups are conducted without a rider. Each horse may be jogged up over multiple different surfaces to provide veterinarians with additional information and context. A level surface is always sought by the Veterinary Team for these exams. If a trainer or assistant trainer requested to jog their horse over a different surface, for example, a request for a horse to jog over a matted area used for ingress into airlocks into barns inside of the USDA quarantine compound, that request would have been accommodated by the Veterinary Team in addition to multiple jog-up exams done on a flat dirt surface.

“We are satisfied that these protocols put the safety and welfare of the horse above all other interests.”

The spokesperson confirmed that the same level of checking is likely to remain in place for next year’s event. “Our lasting commitment to safety and integrity will continue, with the best interests of our athletes in mind,” they said.