I continue to despair over stewards’ enquiries

We give out about stewards in Ireland on occasions but, do you know what, they are geniuses when compared to those in some other countries.

I continue to despair over stewards’ enquiries

We saw what went on at Arlington Park in North America last Saturday night, when Secret Gesture (Jamie Spencer) was disqualified after landing a Grade 1.

Secret Gesture was stood down, she caused minimal interference near the line to eventual third, Stephanie’s Kitten, in what was an appalling decision.

Stephanie’s Kitten’s rider, Irad Ortiz, seizing the opportunity, proceeded to give a theatrical exhibition of what amounted in soccer parlance to “diving.’’ Perhaps, he was auditioning for Mourinho’s Chelsea! Then at York on Wednesday, we were treated to more madness when it comes to stewards’ inquiries.

This time it was the Group 2 Voltigeur Stakes that was the centre of controversy and only in Britain, you suspect, could Storm The Stars have kept that race.

He beat Bondi Beach by half a length, with the pair engaging in a protracted duel in the closing stages.

Pat Cosgrave was aboard Storm The Stars and did little or nothing to keep his mount straight when the battle was raging.

Inside the furlong pole, Storm The Stars gave Bondi Beach a hefty bump and then basically carried him across the entire width of the track.

An inquiry was quickly called, but so hard it is to get a contest in the stewards’ room in Britain that most people, you’d imagine, believed the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

And so it came to pass, with no alteration to the placings the entirely predictable decision.

Indeed, there was almost a smugness about Cosgrave at the inquiry. He knew he was going to be suspended for careless riding (three days), but was also aware that there wasn’t a chance in hell of demotion.

So, in North America if you sneeze in the wrong direction then you are almost certainly going to be tossed out.

In Britain it looks as if you literally have to kill someone to lose a race. Both jurisdictions are bordering on the ridiculous.

Who would want to be a handicapper? It is certainly one of the toughest, most thankless jobs in racing and is not, you suspect, for the faint-hearted! High on their list of hard tasks surely is having to allocate a horse a mark for the first time and the real possibility of getting it very wrong.

That was particularly illustrated by the performance of Ger Lyons’ Intisari at Dundalk last Sunday, in a ten and a half furlongs handicap.

This shaped as being fiercely competitive, with 14 runners, and the favourite, Lean And Keen, left the gate at 5-1.

You would have to say that Intisari’s prospects weren’t overly apparent. Unraced as a two-year-old, the gelded son of Intikhab made his debut at Gowran Park in June, finishing seven lengths fourth behind Gussy Goose in what was an ordinary enough maiden.

Then he contested another maiden at Navan last month and scored by a length and three parts. A number of horses that ran in the race have since reappeared and we now know it was a modest contest.

The handicapper then gave Intisari a rating of 86 and I doubt there were too many running around on Sunday morning trying to get on the horse, on the basis he was thrown in.

But thrown in he was and Intisari proceeded to score with any amount in hand, by four lengths and possibly value for even more.

The handicapper’s retribution has been, understandably, swift and brutal. The three- year-old has been thumped up by 15lbs.

When you note the crowds that flocked to the Tramore festival, and to Roscommon last Monday night, then you have to conclude that the quality of what is on offer is of little importance to most of those who pay through the gates.

Tramore is a unique little track that appeals to so many casual race-goers and has long had its place in the game. We know what to expect and there is no mystery attached to it.

What was on offer at Roscommon, however, was dreadful and it would be difficult to find a more punter unfriendly card.

There wasn’t one race that any type of serious punter could get stuck into and yet those who were on site tell me the place was thronged. There is just no accounting for taste!

Andrew McNamara retired in a blaze of glory at Tramore, winning on his very last ride, Most Honourable.

Shark Hanlon, a great supporter of McNamara’s, supplied the horse and made no secret, on ATR before the race, that he thought his relatively recent £600 purchase capable of winning the 14-runner handicap hurdle.

And score he did, as McNamara drove out his charge for all he was worth to end on the best possible note.

A pal of mine, though, was perplexed at how a horse that cost so little could prove capable of actually winning.

Working himself into a minor lather, he muttered: “But sure you wouldn’t get a jack russell for that.’’

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

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