Petty? We Think Not

The trainer asked - the starter ignored him - the punters and the owners lost out - but life goes on

57864524Paying attention to detail is not something that happens too often in racing. The case of the Royal Air Force filly Petty Officer being declared a non-runner at Kenilworth on Saturday cost some punters bus fare and aggravation – and her connections a lot of both. But does anybody really care – and what will be done about her trainer’s alleged request to the starter that fell on deaf ears?

The Vodacom Durban July. Royal Ascot. American Pharoah.

There really is plenty to keep us occupied with horseracing’s superficial outer layer prominently in the news at the moment.

The glamour of the British Royal Family, the American Triple Crown hero and Africa’s Greatest horserace – they are all good for added value horseracing entertainment. But does the ground-floor punter really get his rent paid by the Zayats, the Windsors, the Joostes, or the NHA and the racing operators?

No – all he asks is that the sport that he supports with addictive regularity day in and day out is run professionally and fairly – and, most of all, gives him a decent shot for his gamble.

Like doing something about the small things.

Michael Clower wrote on about the sixth race starting incident at Kenilworth on Saturday. That is one good example of life carrying on as if nothing ever happened. We quote him:

Favourite backers got their money back when Petty Officer, 3-1 for Castlethorpe’s race, failed to jump. The stipes declared her a non-runner as this huge 564kg filly had her head in the neighbouring stall when the gates opened.

But trainer Greg Ennion was most unhappy, claiming that his warnings about such an eventuality had gone unheeded.

He said: “I asked the starter to load her last because of her size – she doesn’t fit in – and that, if he had to load a few after her, he was not to close the back gates until the last horse had gone in. But the gates were shut after she was loaded and she had to stand with her head turned sideways.”

In the official stipes report, the Starter, Mr A Blayi, reported that Petty Officer (K Neisius) was fractious in the stalls and turned her head over the side of the stalls.

The Stipes went on to confirm that the Stipendiary Board reviewed the start with regard to Petty Officer (K Neisius) in stall gate 4. The video evidence showed this filly was restless upon entering the stalls and threw her head about. Shortly before the start was effected the filly turned her head to the side, over the partition and as a result was impeded when the front gates opened. In view of this Petty Officer was declared a non runner.

So the original favourite gets unfairly done at the start, after the trainer had specifically informed an NHA official of her quirks – and that’s all we get officially?

Talk about detail, the official stipes report shows Petty Officer as 28-1 in the betting – and tote favourite.

Mr Clower indicates that ‘favourite backers got their money back.’

That’s true to a degree – but for exotic backers, the eventual tote favourite Lockheed Jetstar, is still running. So goodbye PA, Jackpot and Bipot.

And the tote pools took a knock with the refunds and a resultant loss of turnover to the operator.

And what about the filly’s owners?

Attorney Howard Rubenstein and businessman Braam van Huyssteen are always on course. Never mind their commitment, support and another month or two of keep that has to be found.

It is not good enough.

An inquiry should have been opened.

That would have provided some answers. Like, is the system at fault? What did Mr Ennion tell the starter? Did the starter fail in his responsibility?

Otherwise, until the weak areas are exposed and rectified, the same old will just happen again – and again – and again.





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