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Leading Owner ‘Disillusioned’

Enough is enough after Fairview incident

“The game is in a shambles. It’s dying. And then we have ridiculous rules, bad decisions and poor attitudes chasing people away. It’s probably high time for me to reconsider how much of my good money I’m throwing after bad.”

Hedley McGrath and partner Yvette Bremner

Leading owner Hedley McGrath bought 42 yearlings or 2yo’s last year. He owns or has shares in 112 horses. He spends big money on what he concedes is a passion. He keeps many people directly employed. He has introduced new people to the sport. It’s a game he loves. His father was one of the greatest Stipes this country has known. He knows the game inside out.

But after Friday’s Fairview meeting, he is plain ‘gatvol’ and says he intends cutting his spend and interests in half. He will also not be attending the sales next month as he had planned to do.

“I am not speaking from my pocket. I won R17 000 on the day. I am speaking from my head and pure logic says that we can’t carry on playing silly games with punter’s money. The simple maxim that if you coudn’t win, you cannot lose must apply. Le Grand Rouge was never a runner in the eighth race,” he told the Sporting Post in an exclusive chat after the last race.

The incident that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Hedley was the Stipes declaring his fancied galloper, Le Grand Rouge, a runner after rearing – prior to the gates opening – in the eighth race.

Le Grand Rouge, a popular favourite after winning his last two starts in good style, can be seen rearing prior to the gates opening. His trainer Yvette Bremner has confirmed that the Western Winter gelding has no history of antics at the starting stalls.

Lyle Hewitson

Lyle Hewitson – did his best

As the gates are sprung, Apprentice Lyle Hewitson clearly has his bottom out of the saddle and is seen taking evasive action and sliding off on to the side of the stall.

The Starter took no action. Backers of the horse did their money in cold blood.

In terms of a revision of the rule published in the NHA Calendar 117 Volume 16 of 10 November 2017, applying to horses being declared a non-runner, if a horse is deemed to be the architect of its own demise as it were, it will be regarded as being under starters orders: Subject to Rule In the event of the actions of a handler preventing a HORSE from starting in a RACE and/or resulting in a HORSE being impeded and thereby losing a significant distance when the stalls are opened, and no false start is declared, such HORSE may be deemed by the SB not to have started and the SB may declare it to have been withdrawn, provided that a horse which is ultimately declared first, second, third or fourth in a race by the judge shall not be declared a nonrunner. Where a HORSE has been impeded and has lost distance as contemplated by RULE, such HORSE shall not be declared a non-runner if, in the sole discretion of the SB, such impediment and subsequent loss of distance was as a consequence of the HORSES own behaviour.

We also pulled out this rule:

61.6.11 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 SB 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.

Via Seattle wins the 2017 Gr3 Starling Stakes in the McGrath silks

“Sanity has to prevail. The rule is nonsensical. Today’s incident proves it. Punters have to be protected and given a fair shot. The game has lost owners for various reasons over the past few years. Punters are leaving. Can we blame them? They are defecting to sports betting and other channels. There is no leadership. I don’t think anybody in authority has any clue as to the impact this kind of circus has on the credibility and integrity of the sport. The industry is fragmented on top of it all. You are welcome to quote me. Somebody has to stand up and say enough is enough,” said Hedley in closing.


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6 comments on “Leading Owner ‘Disillusioned’

  1. Chris Swart says:

    Hedley isn’t wrong.

    I didn’t have a cent on his horse and backed the winner but I fully expected a deduction after seeing the shambles at the start.

    People need to go .This mismanagement has gone on long enough and if the head is rotten, everything else is in a state of decay.

    SA Racing was captured and it needs to be cleaned up completely.
    All remnants from the ugly past must be removed and replaced with men of integrity.
    Clearly this isn’t in place

    I’ll ask one question :

    Why isn’t the sponsor of the continent’s most famous race, not involved in the technology required to produce data relevant to form and timing?

    They do up to the second timing of rugby players to the second on a free app but this is clearly out of their capability

  2. Vikingking says:

    We were all surprised by from we could see on TT.
    We all expected the horse to be at least taken out and checked after it reared.
    We were all surprised the horse was not scratched.

    The wheel turns Mr Hedley , please don’t forget to bring up the subject when you next entertain the Phumalela and RA execs when they visit PE during the year .

    This is one fiasco of many that happens on and off the course on a daily basis . Unfortunately you do not have my sympathy.

  3. Ian Jayes says:

    If a horse is just slow away it is all well and good that it is a runner, but when horses are materially affected at the start they should be declared non-runners. It sounds like this could have been averted if the starter had been more observant.

  4. James George says:

    How can you have a rule that talks about ‘a significant distance’?Will that be 1/2 length a length or The Malster distance?If a horse loses 3 length at start but then catches up with the field after say 200 metres will that be ‘a significant distance’ lost?

    1. Ian Jayes says:

      There is a very old horseracing adage: A length at the start is a length at the finish.

  5. Pops says:

    The July field is loaded and ready when the odds on favourite starts rearing,the jockey is shouting,’No No hold it’.The starter presses the start button.The favourite loses lengths and runs out of the placings,but is declared a runner.according to rule
    Surely that cannot be right?

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