Racing: Stewards inactive as favourite falters at last

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The Independent Online

Southwell officials defended their decision not to hold a stewards' inquiry after a controversial finish to the first race at the track yesterday.

The last fence in the novices' handicap chase had been dolled off following the fall of Divulge on the first circuit. However David Dennis, riding the 7-4 favourite, Manoram, looked at one stage as though he was heading for the obstacle, along with Richard Young aboard third-placed Saucy Night. Both realised their error just in time and switched to the correct side to bypass the fence.

Manoram had jumped what turned out to be the final obstacle in the lead but he had just been headed by the eventual winner, 11-1 shot Johnny Grand, on the run-in and was beaten two lengths by Timmy Murphy's mount.

"We did not hold an inquiry," the stipendiary steward Robert Earnshaw said. "The stewards reviewed the film of the race from all angles and felt that David Dennis had possibly not noticed the dolls were there to bypass the fence.

"Timmy Murphy had headed Dennis on the run to the last and both the second and third jockeys appeared to be heading in the wrong direction. Thankfully, both jockeys noticed their error and corrected it and bypassed the fence on the correct side.

"Neither jockey was guilty of breaking the rules. They both took the correct course."