Monday 11 December 2017

Mick Kinane: Stewards made right calls at Doncaster and Leopardstown

Andrea Atzeni
Andrea Atzeni

The major talking point of the week has been the stewards' inquiries from last Saturday where Aidan O'Brien's Bondi Beach was promoted to win the English St Leger and Doncaster and Golden Horn kept the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown after causing interference to Pat Smullen and Free Eagle.

Starting with Doncaster, and I think the stewards got it right on the day. It was a very difficult one and very hard on the connections of the filly who was first past the post . . . one minute Sheikh Fahad is leading in his first Classic winner and the next it is taken away from him. My initial reaction when I watched the race was that Andrea Atzeni barged his way out to have his run and that is breaking the rules.


People would suggest that Colm was trying to keep him in but he's entitled to and was well within his rights. When the second bump accured closer to the line, I think that sealed it. Maybe Andrea would have got away with one but the second bump gave the stewards enough to say it made the difference and they were obviously happy with their decision as they can be slow to reverse the results.

There is no doubt that Colm spoke very well in the inquiry and his expereince of that situation showed. Andrea is a young fella whereas Colm has bags of experience and has ridden in India, Hong Kong and around the world and you could see the difference.

I was at Leopardstown and watched the Champion Stakes live and wondered if the result would be changed, but when I saw the replay you could see that Golden Horn was just getting the upperhand before the incident and the best horse won on the day.

It was certainly dramatic and it was very hard luck on Free Eagle, who was denied second place, but as disappointed as his connections were, I think they accepted the decision and weren't jumping around thinking they should have got the race.

The frustrating aspect for the general public is that had both incidents taken place in America or France both winners would have been thrown out, which would have been harsh on Golden Horn.

Connections of Simple Verse will appeal the Doncaster outcome next week but Colm and the Bondi Beach team have the advantage of having the stewards on the day also fighting their case and it will be very hard to see it reversed back.

Aidan O'Brien also won the Irish St Leger with Order Of St George and I thought he would have won the English version had he went that way. He looks classy but ground is vital to him.

There was some fantastic drama during the Irish Champions Weekend and brilliant performances including Legatissimo who is the champion filly and not finished yet.

Finally, I was delighted to see David Casey bow out with a winner at Listowel and wish him all the best for the future.

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