Fairview Feature Start – Where’s The Consistency?

Hood was pulled too early - horse did what he is schooled to do

Another decision by the Stipes has come under the spotlight with leading owner Laurence Wernars puzzling over the rationale of the call to declare the 8yo Divine Odyssey a runner in the feature at Fairview on Friday.

An eyecatching recent fourth in the WSB Gr1 Summer Cup at Turffontein, the evergreen Divine Odyssey carried joint topweight in the Fairview 1900 where he was allotted barrier gate 10.

Despite appearing to nudge his gate after his hood was pulled and thus clearly getting out early, he was declared a runner.

Divine Odyssey is clearly ahead of the game in gate 10

Owner Laurence Wernars ponders what would have happened if his horse had won?

“If he had won, would he actually have been awarded the race? And was the gate barged open? If the answer is yes, should it not either be a false start or the horse declared a non-runner?” asked the well invested owner and breeder.

In the official report, the Starter observes that Divine Odyssey rushed the front gate and jumped awkwardly, losing one length.

It goes on to say that the Stewards reviewed the start with regard to Divine Odyssey and established that this gelding was fitted with a hood when inside the starting stall as per his grading. Once this hood was removed, he pre-empted the start, broke the front gate open fractionally early and was then momentarily impeded when the left-front gate bounced back.

Watch the replay here:

The Stewards were apparently satisfied that Divine Odyssey was in the starting stalls when the start was effected and that the circumstances that prevailed were as a result of this geldings’ own behaviour inside the starting stalls. The Stewards also considered the distance of this race and the finishing position of the gelding and declared it to be a runner. That’s interesting!

A seasoned trainer watched the events and commented that a horse is schooled to jump once the hood is removed. “And that’s what Divine Odyssey did. The hood was taken off too early in my opinion and the horse was simply doing what he was schooled to do. If anything this should have been a false start based on my assessment.”

So was the horse to blame? Or the handler? Does the decision not smack of inconsistency and why now do wide-reaching powers of discretion come into play? We are always told rules are rules- no grey, they are black and white.

Mr Wernars is quite puzzled.

“Divine Odyssey conservatively lost 1 length by their own admission but they blame the horse for being impeded by the front gate. He was only beaten 1,35 lengths so I’m not sure how they can say they considered the distance of the race, let alone Divine Odyssey’s finishing position. If they claim that what occurred was caused directly by Divine Odyssey’s own behaviour then why did they even consider the distance of the race and the finishing position, as it would surely be irrelevant?”

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