Racing: Judge taken out of firing line

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THE JUDGE Jane Stickels has been relieved of her racecourse duties for an indefinite period after causing confusion when calling the wrong winner in a photo-finish at Newmarket on Thursday.

The Jockey Club has elected to take this step after Mrs Stickels announced Full Flow as the short-head winner of the Superlative Stakes.

She realised her blunder 35 seconds later and corrected her announcement, confirming that the Irish raider Thady Quill had pipped the Barry Hills- trained Full Flow.

Mrs Stickels was saved from further embarrassment as the bookmakers did not start paying out on Full Flow as a stewards' inquiry had been called.

She was already under scrutiny by Jockey Club officials for a mistake that caused uproar last month at Lingfield where her husband, Geoff, is the clerk of the course.

Tony Goodhew, the Jockey Club's Director of Racecourse Services, said yesterday: "In the light of yesterday's incident at Newmarket it has been decided that it would be in the interests of all concerned if Jane Stickels is not scheduled for racecourse duties for the time being.

"The recent incidents involving her at Lingfield and Newmarket will be dealt with shortly and in accordance with our employment procedures."

After Thursday's error Stickels said: "I felt ghastly when I realised what had happened. I'm afraid I've made a few mistakes before. There is a certain amount of pressure to give the result quickly and that can lead to mistakes."

Error-free at York yesterday was Gary Stevens who made his first experience of the Knavesmire a winning one, recording a double with his first rides, Samara Song and Imperial Beauty.

Samara Song was delivered with perfect timing by Stevens to catch the well-backed Pas De Memoires near the line in the Hearthstead Homes Handicap.

"This is one of the nicest courses I've ridden at," the jockey said. "It has a lovely sweeping turn that is very Americanised and makes me think of home. It's good to come up to Yorkshire as my wife, Nicky, was born in Doncaster and we're staying here for the weekend."

Samara Song was back in action three days after finishing down the field at Newmarket when the draw was against him.

"Gary gave the horse a beautiful ride," Ian Williams, the trainer, said. "This horse needs to be held up and come with a late burst and that's exactly what he did."

Imperial Beauty, back in action for the first time since the 1,000 Guineas, soon took charge in the Summer Stakes and quickened well to take care of Pipalong by one and a half lengths in the Listed event. The Peter Makin- trained filly will be kept to six furlongs and connections intend looking for a suitable Group Three race.

Jedi Knight is to tackle the pounds 100,000 William Hill Handicap at Goodwood on 29 July after justifying favouritism in the mile handicap. Johnny Murtagh took him to the front with two furlongs to travel after Atlantic Prince had cut out much of the running.