Trigger Happy Starter

KZN Starter in the wars again

Friar Tuck and Brandon Lerena have no opposition in sight as they capitalise on a circus at the start

“My horse was three quarters of the way in and backed out as they jumped,” recalled jockey Brandon Lerena in the post-race interview of the Scottsville seventh race on Wednesday. The young jockey’s frank statement was a damning indictment that the KZN Starter had sprung the gates prematurely.

Lerena was piloting the Mark Dixon trained Friar Tuck, who was wearing the blinkers for the first time, when his twelve opponents jumped with him standing at the rear of the stalls.

Friar Tuck jumped quickly at the restart and was never headed as he went away from his field to win by 5,25 lengths and pay R13 a tote win.

“We were lucky to be in the pound seats today as the rest would probably have had the initial adrenaline rush and some went a few hundred meters the first time,” said Lerena.

Punters may not have felt the same about the starter’s alarming error as Friar Tuck has not won a race since August 2012 and his recent form is uninspiring.

Trainer Mark Dixon said it was difficult to assess just how much of an advantage had been gained by Friar Tuck.

As for the starter, we are not suggesting conspiracy theories or hidden agendas. Rather incompetence and a dereliction of duty.

One can only wonder if the starter is this trigger happy, what must the handlers be feeling when closing a late gate in front of the stalls with most of the field loaded?

As for the final outcome, we realise that a split second decision to call a false start is one thing, but would it not have been better to void the race after the second jump?

Trainer Mark Dixon ended with a winning double as he also won the last with the Wilgerbosdrift-bred Ramp Diva.

Keagan De Melo rode a hat-trick of winners, which included the first double for Gavin Van Zyl.

Anthony Delpech and Mike De Kock also teamed up for a well taken double.



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