Punters suffer a bad break in stalls fiasco

It is not easy to break the world five-furlong record established by Indigenous at Epsom, which is why the mark of 53.6 seconds has stood for over 40 years and a bonus of £100,000 exists for its breaching.

It is not easy to break the world five-furlong record established by Indigenous at Epsom, which is why the mark of 53.6 seconds has stood for over 40 years and a bonus of £100,000 exists for its breaching.

Yesterday, six horses found the chase into the history book further compromised. Their stalls did not open at the same time as the others.

The promotional literature of Epsom proudly tells us that this is the fastest racing territory in the world, featuring a five furlong scream down the Surrey Downs.

Yet, according to the stewards yesterday, the fact that 11 runners got a head start on the rest was immaterial. There will be plenty who consider there were two malfunctions around the Tote Exacta Sprint, one before and one after the race. It will be considered appropriate that the stewarding crew included Tim Motley.

While there was punter dissatisfaction on the racecourse, there was little outpouring from the bookmakers. The confirmed winner was the 14-1 chance Boleyn Castle.

Terry Mills's gelding had emerged from stall nine, but was able to chart his way over to the stands' rail as boxes 12 to 17 failed to operate correctly. It may all have been caused by Tuscan Dream in the 16 box, who thrashed around so violently that Paul Bradley took refuge in the gantry of the starting stalls and decided, with discretion, to stay there when the field was sent, intermittently, on its way.

One of the affected was the well-fancied runner-up, Smart Predator, the mount of Frankie Dettori. There was no footstamping, however, from the Discover Racing ambassador. But then he had not backed Smart Predator. "A few of them got in late and a couple of horses reared up," the Italian said. "My stall delayed by less than a second. I saw the stall next to me coming out and I was thinking that I lost half a length. But I don't feel they delayed enough to affect the result. My opinion is that it didn't cost me the race."

This was a common theme from the jockeys involved and one which swayed the panel. "Having heard the evidence and viewed the video, the stewards were satisfied that the incident had not prejudiced the chances of sufficient horses to justify voiding the race," Paul Barton, the stewards' secretary, said. "The stewards were between a rock and a hard place. "Rule 14 (xviii) states that the race can be voided if a stalls malfunction 'materially prejudices a sufficient number of runners in the race'. Based upon what they had seen and heard, they concluded that this was not the case."

Elsewhere, satisfaction was more difficult to locate. "You couldn't find a better way of driving people away from racing," David Hopkins, from Watford, said. "It was robbery. Just like walking down the street and getting mugged. I had no chance.

"It's perfectly obvious they [the stewards] have made a complete balls; the completely wrong decision. If this had been any other country, everyone would have walked straight out of the racecourse.

"If the favourite's stall had opened a bit before the others, the bookmakers would have been pounding on the door of the stewards' room, but because it is the other way round there is no problem. It all gives you the needle, doesn't it?"

It was all a bit raucous for a card which was meant to feature the Moet & Chandon Silver Magnum for gentlemen riders and gentlemen riders only, though "a delightful and well-known lady" is always asked to present the magnum which is actually worth more than the prize money. On this occasion it was Lady Powell, who followed in the Gucci shoes of Viscountess Montgomery of Alamein, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and La Comtesse du Cheyron du Pavillon. Not much of a Tupperware party there. The winners of the race in the last five years have included a French general practitioner and a Belgian insurance broker and, on this occasion, we got an Italian photographer, Christiano Fais, who made no mistake as he persuaded Rutland Chantry home for trainer Steve Gollings. This, in one sense, made him the superior of a fellow countryman and rider. Frankie Dettori has yet to win an Epsom Derby but is willing to give himself a few more chances, despite reports in one Sunday newspaper.

Yes, he is thinking of retiring - in about a decade's time. "I will get in here one day," he said in the winners' circle, "but I'd better be quick because the clock is ticking away. I've got another 10 years to go."

Fais had, nevertheless, asked Dettori for advice before his race. "Stay close to the pace," Godolphin's man had said, and, presumably, "play it down if anything controversial happens".

* Mathias Keller, a German rider, received a three-day suspension for careless riding on fourth-placed Gold Statuette in the amateurs' race.

Kinane ban confirmed

Michael Kinane's long-running battle against a two-day ban for careless riding was finally resolved yesterday. The Irish Turf Club's Appeals & Referrals Committee heard Kinane's appeal for the second time, dismissed it for a second time and kept his deposit.

The ban had been imposed for a ride on July 18 and would originally have taken effect on 27 and 28 July, the latter date coinciding with the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. After the dismissal of his first appeal, however, Kinane obtained an interim injunction in the Dublin High Court – which allowed him to ride at Ascot – prior to a further meeting of the High Court last Wednesday at which it emerged that the Appeals Committe had not followed the correct appeal procedures.

Second time around, the result was the same, except that instead of missing the King George-winning ride on Galileo, Kinane will now miss today and tomorrow's action at the festival meeting at Tralee.

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