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Stipes Discretion Lacks Soul

Horseracing the loser - we need better explanations

A decision by the East Cape Stipendiary Board at Fairview on Friday in utilising sole discretion granted to them in terms of the rules appears, on the face of it, to lack any logic – with horseracing the loser.

The authority of sole discretion surely places a burden on officials to apply their minds and experience in reaching the most balanced and fair decision in the interests of all stakeholders. Not easy keeping all the people happy all the time, but nothing makes sense to declare two horses who gained no apparent advantage , or disadvantage for that matter, and ran unplaced, non-runners!

In the Fairview seventh on Friday Stipendiary Stewards Mike Jones, Julia Keevy and Martin Ball were tasked to play god in the case of two runners in an eight race field. Both ended up being declared non-runners – and the debate is compounded as this was in an environment where a technical fault caused a manual start to be effected. Surely a factor to suggest more discretion should apply?

The NHA Rule 61.6.11 says:

The only HORSES which shall be deemed to have started will be those in the stalls when the starter releases the gates; provided that the Stipendiary Board after a hearing, may in its sole discretion and within the time period specified for the lodging of notification of an OBJECTION, declare any HORSE to be a non-starter.

The official 7th race Stipes Report tells us the following, amongst others:

1)That the Starter Had No Reports . (why?)

2) That the start of this race was delayed due to a technical fault being experienced with the starting stalls which had to be attended to.  As a result a manual start was effected.

3) The starting stall gate of PLACIDO drawn 1 opened markedly prematurely.

4) THE CAT drawn 8, rushed and broke through the front gate.

5) In view of the Starter’s Report (which one?) and no false start being called, the Stipendiary Board called for a race review into the start.  After reviewing the patrol films of the start and hearing evidence from the Starter, the Board decided to declare PLACIDO a non-starter as this gelding was not correctly installed at the time the start was effected, (rule 61.6.11).  The Board was satisfied that THE CAT (draw 8) rushed and broke through the front gate prematurely and gained an advantage over the other runners, and declared THE CAT a non-starter (rule 61.6.11).

6) THE CAT and PLACIDO non-starters (in terms of rule 61.6.11).

The favourite China Express duly won.

Surely the only logic that The Cat and Placido were declared non-runners was  that they gained some form of perceived advantage or disadvantage?  Neither even ran a place!

So backers of two ‘errant’ runners, who ran nowhere, got their bets refunded – while backers of the favourite – who won – were hit with deductions!

With the field reduced to six runners – after the scratching – place backers of the (fairly, we thought) third placed Larimar did their money in cold blood – through no fault of theirs, or the horse.

An image of a nice clock with time for questions

The tote lost revenue through refunds.

Exotic punters received reduced dividends in many cases.

Does it make sense?

And then there is the administrative matter that the Stipes Report also makes no mention of the possible repeat offender, The Cat.

On 21 July 2017, the same horse  rushed the front gate at the same venue with two of the three Stipes that presided on Friday present. He broke through momentarily before the starter effected the start and gained an unfair advantage over the other runners.  The Starter did not call a false start and the Stipendiary Board called a race review into the start.  The Board after reviewing the patrol films of the start, and hearing evidence from the Starter, the rider of THE CAT and other riders, decided to act in terms of rule 61.6.11 and declared THE CAT to be a non-starter.

What are they doing to remedy The Cat’s apparent behavioural defect? That should surely be a more pressing issue than scratching where it’s not itching!


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