WE at Turf Talk don’t wish to get involved in contentious arguments in racing as mudslinging seems futile. But we have an incident here that we’d like our readers to make a call on.
The matter concerns the objection lodged after Race 6 over 1600m at Scottsville last Saturday, and the outcome of the objection. The race video is posted at the bottom of this article, it is essential that you watch the head-on view carried in the second half of the replay before you determine your view.
In brief, the race was won by Sylvester The Cat (Brandon Lerena) who got up by a wet nose from Arctica (Anthony Delpech), after the pair shifted across the track to the standside rail. Delpech objected on the grounds of interference in the latter stages, with Sylvester The Cat appearing to carry Arctica out, several horse widths, costing Arctica victory.
The Objection Board, chaired by Shaun Parker, ruled that the outwards movements of both horses were independent – in the Board’s view, Sylvester The Cat’s movement had no effect on the runner-up – and therefore they over-ruled Delpech’s objection, refunding the deposit and allowing the Judge’s result to stand.
It is quite clear that Arctica makes the first outwards move outward, on his own. But soon after that Sylvester The Cat shifts sharply to the outside as well and appears to pursue and then brush his rival, who straightens after Delpech changes his stick from right arm to the left. Lerena keep his whip in his right hand and they stay on to win.
“You have to watch the video very carefully,” Parker commented on Monday. There is independent movement from both horses. Arctica lugs to the outside the moment Delpech changes his stick, but he doesn’t lose momentum. What you should do is try to ignore Sylvester The Cat, isolate Arctica, look at him on his own from the 300m mark. He shifts out most when the jockey changes whip hands.”
We viewed the replay a couple of times again. There is a second just before the whip change when Sylvester The Cat’s movement arguably carries Arctica further to the standside fence than he would’ve been. With only the shortest of short heads in it, it is possible that Arctica could have been the one with his nose in front at the line had he been able to run straight.
Parker conceded that this was quite a subjective case to rule on, a race that people will see differently: “We have to call objections as we see them at the time, we deal with them right there and then as best we can and we make a call. We considered the evidence and we are of the view that Arctica did not lose the race as a result of the actions of the winner, hence the result stood.”
Arctica’s trainer Mike Azzie said he was “disgusted” with the result of the objection. “I have a stable policy now that neither I nor my sons, my assistants, will object against results again. We have no faith in the stipendiary boards and objecting against them has become senseless. If our jockeys want to object it’s up to them, but we won’t. The Arctica call was a disgusting one by the stipes.”
We had a few calls from interested racing fans, including trainers and jockeys – all upset by the result of this objection but, Azzie aside, unwilling to go on record in fear of being “victimised”, a somewhat worrying sentiment across the board, in the aftermath.
The general feeling is that Stipes’ decisions are not consistent, in KZN and elsewhere. ”There is no recourse for us,” said one trainer. “Years ago, connections were by the rules able to lodge appeals against any of the Stipendiary Board’s rulings on objections, but the rule was scrapped. Of course stipes are only human, they make mistakes, but there should be an avenue of appeal against poor decisions. If a trainer or owner feels hard done by and puts money down to appeal, he or she should be able to do that, even if it means sending the evidence to an independent board in an overseas racing jurisdiction.”
Shaun Parker concluded: “I want to make it clear that we as a Stipendiary Board look at every objection on merit. We do not in any way consider the trainers, jockeys or owners involved, it is our duty to rule each case on its merits and we do not favour anyone, nor do we try to disadvantage anyone at any point during or after an objection. In the course of race meetings over time there are rulings that may seem subjective but they are not, we call things as we see them, without bias.”
If you decide to comment on this matter below this article, also kindly note how many times you had to watch the head-on to come to a point of view. Consensus among our callers seems to be that the minute winning margin should’ve swayed things the way of Arctica in this case, but it’s a tricky one all the same. Go look.