Friday 17 November 2017

Track Talk: Inquiries need to have most qualified stewards possible

Bondi Beach (left) and Simple Verse ride close together, leading to a stewards' inquiry at
Bondi Beach (left) and Simple Verse ride close together, leading to a stewards' inquiry at Doncaster

Well, well, well, what a weekend that was. Starting with the two major talking points that were the stewards' inquiries.

Could anyone definitely say, without any doubt, that Simple Verse wouldn't have won the English St Leger if she hadn't bumped Bondi Beach twice in the last couple of furlongs at Doncaster? I don't think so. It's difficult to say that she wouldn't have still hung on but the placings were reversed

Could anyone deny that Golden Horn was the best horse in the Irish Champion Stakes? You couldn't. To veer right like he did (twice) and still manage to win the race showed just what was left in the tank but had Free Eagle finished second it's most likely he would have lost the race with the stewards and there would have been few arguments.

The Engish St Leger now goes to appeal but it won't be changed and nor should it be, in my opinion.


At first viewing, I thought the first past the post was safe as houses but the head-on showed the two significant bumps that certainly would have curtailed the momentum of Bondi Beach and with just a head the winning margin, it was possible to make the argument that the placings should be changed.

Colm O'Donoghue made that argument, and extremely well indeed. It was actually quite fascinating to watch.

We didn't see the debate between Frankie Dettori and Pat Smullen at Leopardstown but that seemed to be called quite quickly, and again the fact that Free Eagle only finished third probably led to speeding up that process.

The problem is in both incidents we didn't really know how they were going to pan out, but we could say for definite if it was France or America they'd both have been changed. We'd all love continuity between stewards all around the world but that is never going to happen. In Ireland, they are amateurs who don't even get paid.

We're not going to get the transparency we want but is it time to consider making it more appealing for former jockeys to finish riding and have a career as a steward?

Surely somebody who has been in thousands of races would be best suited to view such races as we saw over the weekend and give the most probable of likelihoods, while taking interference into account?

Meanwhile, Irish Champions Weekend has come and gone for a second time and it could be deemed successful again. The absence of Gleneagles from the Irish Champion Stakes was a major blow and one that couldn't be helped. The fact that it didn't rain for the majority of last week and the Irish Champion Stakes was going to be the first race on that course this year still couldn't save what would have been the race of the year, but with Irish Champions Weekend's place on both the world map and the calendar, rain softened ground is always going to be a threat to attracting all the big names.

We may well have seen a future Ascot Gold Cup winner claim the Irish St Leger, we definitely saw the champion two-year-old colt in Air Force Blue and Sole Power got one of the finest receptions of the weekend as he confirmed he's still one of the best sprinters on the planet.

In the Moyglare, when Minding beat Ballydoyle, it was a surprise but they are undoubtedly two high class fillies because there was some real good form lines left reeling in behind from both sides of the Irish Sea.

So the action at the Curragh was as good as you could want on such a weekend, but the venue doesn't roar appeal just yet, but that is being dealt with and when resolved will make a huge difference to their attendances.

As one of my colleagues on Sunday said: 'The second album is always the hardest'. But continuing to learn from the good and bad of the weekend, this event could fulfil the dreams of those behind it.

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