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Picture: Trainer Wayne Hawkes after Pesto won Race 1, the Fanfave Handicap, during Melbourne Racing at Flemington Racecourse on May 21, 2022 (Getty)

Trainer Wayne Hawkes made a complaint to stewards after a farcical barrier draw, televised live via, for the $1 million Empire Rose Stakes to be run on Derby Day (Victoria Derby at Flemington in Melbourne on Saturday).

The Hawkes-trained Yearning was initially left without a barrier at the end of the draw after the barrel of balls with barrier numbers on them was found to be one ball short.
The missing ball represented barrier 14, with the stewards then deciding Yearning would be forced to take that barrier despite not having officially drawn it.
Speaking to Gerard Whateley on SEN’s Whateley show soon after the botched draw, Hawkes explained that his phone then went “ballistic”.
“The owners’ racing manager was watching and he’s tried to ring me … so I’ve rung him back, my father’s (John Hawkes) rung me and I’ve hung up from both of them, long story short I’ve rung the aficionados and said ‘I’m getting pressure here, so where do we stand?’
“I said it’s not your fault but I need a comeback so I can go back to people and tell them.”
After Hawkes’ call to stewards it was determined that all 18 balls would be put back in the barrel to draw Yearning’s barrier, with the horse that drew its number in the initial draw to move to the barrier outside it, shuffling each horse drawn outside Yearning further wide by one barrier.
Whateley suggested it would be “simpler to redo the whole thing”.
“To be honest, I said I hope we’re video taping this so we can all see it – because it was on on live stream – so we can all have a look at what has happened,” Hawkes added.
“I don’t want to draw barrier one with Yearning, cause she’s drawn inside both times and been four back the fence, so 14 was not a bad barrier theoretically.
“But you know what, the bottom line is I just want fairness. One rule book and fairness and they’re doing the right thing, they’re re-drawing the horse.”
When the 18 balls went back into the barrel and Yearning’s barrier was eventually drawn, by a remarkable twist of fate, the ball with the No.14 on it was drawn for Yearning, meaning the status quo remained.
That came after Hawkes had added on Whateley that the other issue surrounding the original draw was that the barrel that it was conducted out of was made of perspex – a clear material – so the steward drawing the balls could in theory see what ball he was drawing for each horse as it was plucked from the barrel.
“I don’t know, it’s been a hell of a day for Racing Victoria and Racing NSW,” Hawkes said.
“It’s not good on all counts when something goes wrong … I’m sweating here Gerard.”
“Where was ball No.14?” Whateley asked.
“I don’t know. No one seems to know,” Hawkes responded with a chuckle.
The four-year-old mare Yearning won the Group 1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield last Spring and ran a place in the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes at Flemington two starts back.
The Empire Rose Stakes will jump at 5pm (AEDT) at Flemington on Saturday, with Yearning a $21 outsider to win.
La Crique will start the race as a hot favourite.
Barrier 1: 4. Kiku
Barrier 2: 13. Daisies
Barrier 3: 10. Hinged
Barrier 4: 9. Belle Plaisir
Barrier 5: 11. Fangirl
Barrier 6: 16. She’s Licketysplit
Barrier 7: 8. Chaillot
Barrier 8: 14. La Crique
Barrier 9: 17. My Whisper
Barrier 10: 5. Excelida
Barrier 11: 2. Nimalee
Barrier 12: 20. Cliff’s Art
Barrier 13: 6. Mirra Vision
Barrier 14: 12. Yearning
Barrier 15: 19. Pride of Jenni
Barrier 16: 18. Atishu
Barrier 17: 15. Elusive Express
Barrier 18: 1. Icebath