Nothing arouses punters’ feelings more than a controversial protest. Racing people still discuss with great vigour the Nausori-Big Philou Caulfield Cup protest (some wags say Roy Higgins should have been given an Academy Award) and the Stylish Century-Dulcify AJC Derby objection.
Saturday’s Australian Cup protest by Preferment against first past-the-post runner Awesome Rock was another that caused controversy. And it will continue into the future. In years gone by, it might not have been upheld. Certainly, a lot more protests are allowed nowadays, yet the rules are the same
The issue with the Australian Cup is that the runners never actually touched. There was always “air” between them. Perhaps half a metre.
The case for the defence could have been that most of the runners were heading wider into the perceived better going and so was Preferment. To experts’ eyes, Hugh Bowman seemed to be looking to head wider on the track. But Stephen Baster, the jockey on Awesome Rock, arguably did not help his case by making it clear in giving evidence that he was deliberately heading out wider, rather than moving with the herd. The Preferment connections cited safety.
In any event, the “interference” was minor, as Baster was only reprimanded. Reprimands aren’t usually associated with the serious business of upholding protests.
For the connections of the entire Awesome Rock, it is a body blow. Perhaps his stud value at this point might have been reduced by as much as five million dollars due to him now not being a group 1 Australian Cup winner.
Last year, in Britain, a protest was appealed against successfully. Sheikh Fahad, whose Simple Verse had been relegated to second in the St Leger, by stewards, was the horse involved. His Highness took unprecedented action, getting the lawyers involved and he won. Interestingly, Simple Verse and second past-the-post Bondi Beach did have a “good bump”, much worse than the episode in Saturday’s Australian Cup.
Saturday’s Pago Pago (for colts) and Magic Night (for fillies) added little to the Golden Slipper picture in my view. I believe it remains a battle between the Randwick and Caulfield form, which excludes the four or five Godolphin runners. As a Sydneysider, I fear the Caulfield form is stronger. Only this year and last year have the prime Slipper lead-ups, the Todman and Reisling, been held at Randwick rather than Rosehill. The more testing Randwick track has made this pair stronger races. Last year, the two winners quinellaed the Slipper! This augurs well for Singo’s Todman winner, Kiss And Make Up. If he wins, will Singo “shout the bar”, as he did when Belle Du Jour won?
Kiss And Make Up on parade
Kiss And Make Up has been paraded before half-a-dozen of Australia’s leading studs. Should he win the industry’s best stallion-making race, the competition for him will be fierce, with Gai Waterhouse’s last two Slipper winners, Vancouver and Pierro, commanding almost $40m apiece.
Statistician Zeb Armstrong tells me Gai now has 28 graduates standing at stud. It is surely unprecedented and a great credit to her.
US protests show the way
I loved the new 30-minute gap between races last Wednesday. So much better. Everyone in the betting ring totally agrees. A fast game is a good game.
Some may say that protests could pose a problem with the short-time spacing.
In Saratoga in the United States, I have noticed that the jockey has to declare his protest and his grounds then give evidence from the back of his mount, via the Stewards’ mobile phone, before he gets back to scale. The first past-the-post also gives his evidence, again before he weighs in.
The US stewards have all the great equipment ours do. They don’t allow the connections to express their views – after all, the video tells the tale. The result is declared very quickly.
We should copy the Americans. And keep the 30 minutes between races.
Giddyup a ‘good thing’
Today is Adelaide Cup day but in NSW we have nothing, bar a small meeting in Dubbo. So, I’m taking myself to Moonee Valley, (or, as Dad calls it “Money Valley”!) where I will be fielding.
I think there is a good thing there.
I very much like the last-start win of the David Hayes trained Giddyup in race three. His time and sectionals were outstanding.This lightly raced horse’s rating numbers are in a upward spiral. He is exactly the type I look for.
He’ll jump straight to the lead on the tight circuit and you’ll get in the queue to collect.
The Sydney Morning Herald: March 13th 2016