Tight squeeze … Scream Machine, in purple at rear.Saturday’s Scream Machine controversy at Rosehill Gardens highlighted the need for Australian protest procedure to be updated.
Confusion reigned regarding the objection by Kathy O’Hara, riding Scream Machine, against Marden, with Peter Robl up, who beat her home by a long neck in the 1900-metre benchmark 90.
O’Hara made her plea on interference at the first turn but after hearing evidence, stewards added problems early in the home straight to the prosecution case.
Stewards are entitled to take the action even if jockeys and trainers don’t. In some cases, jockeys and trainers don’t even know the relevance of when and where interference occurs. O’Hara and trainer Jason Coyle didn’t think the incident in the straight mattered after the first traffic jam, but stewards deemed it vital.
In the US, stewards viewing the live telecast will signify “inquiry” to the public at any signs of hostility and then take the appropriate action. Jockeys can be questioned.
Trainers and owners here get their say but mainly just agree with jockeys. Do they waste time? Stewards are impartial experts, and should be able to discern, with all best and most modern equipment at their fingertips, whether a horse has been unfairly treated and to what degree. Some jockeys don’t know from where trouble comes, understandable in the heat of saddle combat.
Alas, the court of punter opinion, expressed on Racenet, was more against than in favour of the stewards’ protest-upheld decision regarding Scream Machine.
However, “Sedation” made a relevant point: “Hmmm, perhaps the fact that Robl has pleaded guilty to two charges of careless riding, both involving the long-neck-beaten runner-up, will convince some that the right decision was made in relation to the protest.”
Cassidy the great
Veteran pumper Jim Cassidy again took charge on Cantonese in the Christmas Cup on Saturday, confirming his status as one of the greatest in front. “If he’s so good why did he get beat so far on Glencadam Gold in the Caulfield Cup?” sceptics ask. Glencadam Gold had led all the way to take The Metrop at Randwick under Tom Berry, who later got him into sixth place in the Melbourne Cup. Well, Gai Waterhouse horses lost a leg in Melbourne in the spring, and had Glencadam Gold been the same horse at Flemington as he was at Randwick, he would have finished closer than sixth in conditions that suited up-front and near-the-fence stayers.
The education of Sessions, beaten when $2.20 favourite in the last at Rosehill on Saturday, is proving costly to punters. Trainer Peter Snowden applied a Norton bit on the three-year-old but he still threw his head around and raced erratically early. To go down by a half-length to former stablemate Whitlam was good enough to ensure he will be favourite at his next start. Wise guys, too, figure the centre of the track where Sessions made his run was slower than elsewhere.
Vale Harry Meyer
Breaker Harry Meyer, 87, a great contributor to Australian racing, died on Saturday. In more recent decades, Meyer had been working for his former apprentice Max Crockett educating horses at Gooree Stud, Mudgee. Earlier, he was a force with Tommy Smith and a big contributor in the repatriation of the champion Tulloch. Sure, Percy Sykes was the mastermind but Meyer was hands-on, giving the entire six feeds a day at his stable in an attempt to overcome a scouring disease that threatened Tulloch’s life. “I first met Harry when I was 13 and walking greyhounds for Doug Phillips on La Perouse beach,” Crocket said on Sunday. “Doug said, ‘There’s Tulloch.’ Harry had him pawing in the water when the reports said he was nearly dead. I walked over and Harry said, ‘Get on him, son.'” This was the start of a wonderful friendship. Meyer went bush with Lloyd Foyster, a mining tycoon who paid his bills and established Gooree Stud, later taken over by Eduardo Cojuangco.
Horse to follow
Bennetta, resuming and from a wide gate, gave too much start when second in the fillies’ 1200m at Rosehill on Saturday but produced a brilliant finishing section.
Gangster’s Choice, the $3 favourite, finished last in the fourth at Rosehill. Trainer John O’Shea attributed the effort to being three wide throughout but the gelding was beaten more than 15 lengths.
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