PAT KEANE: I’m on the side of the Naas stewards on this one!

At Naas on Monday, following a six-furlongs handicap, the stewards were called into action after the 11-4 favourite, Captain Power, had beaten 5-1 shot, Dark Alliance, by a short head.

When the stewards had completed their deliberations the decision arrived at was to reverse the placings much to the chagrin, you suspect, of the majority of punters.

I think it is fair to say that the majority of observers in actual fact, whether they had a wager in the contest or not, probably assumed there would be no alteration to the placings.

But do you know what, I’m on the side of the stewards on this one and believe they got it exactly right.

The enquiry centred on an incident that took place between the principals over a furlong down and the side-on view of the race gave no indication the stewards were going to be required.

But the head-on told an entirely different tale. Captain Power’s rider, Robbie Downey, had a choice of either heading left or right with less than two furlongs to travel, as he sought an opening.

He decided on right, which was fine, as long as he didn’t cause significant interference. At this stage Dark Alliance was attempting to go through a gap, but had that taken away from him, as he was pushed wide by Captain Power.

Now you can argue that Dark Alliance may not have had the speed to go where he wanted to anyway, but that’s irrelevant, as he was basically stripped of the opportunity to do so.

As Captain Power shot forward, Dark Alliance continued to drift away, still feeling the effects of Captain Power’s intimidation, before Shane Foley got him back on an even keel again.

Entering the final furlong, Dark Alliance had over two lengths to make up on his rival. He finished powerfully, but was still marginally behind at the line.

On viewing the head-on my immediate reaction was that the stewards should reverse the placings, but probably wouldn’t.

Mostly, you can never be totally certain what would have happened in such cases, but I have long argued that the benefit of the doubt should then always be handed to the victim.

When learning that the stewards had indeed found in favour of Dark Alliance the feeling was that justice had been served.

For on track punters, who were on the favourite, of course, the outcome was a shocker, although the betting shop people were saved by double result.

And the double result must have cost the firms a few quid, considering it was the market leader and the third favourite who were involved.

But knowing the shops only really want mugs to darken their doors meant any sort of sympathy for them would have been in short supply. Not that they’d seek any, regarding such “bad luck’’ as merely a short term loan!

WELL, Willie Mullins was crowned the leading trainer at the Galway festival, finally overcoming the ridiculous points system.

He was the leading trainer also a year ago, but was deprived of the modest glory by technical silliness.

Why Galway, one of the most progressive tracks in the country, continues to employ a points system remains a mystery.

The only fair and logical way to conclude who is the leading trainer, jockey, whatever, is to award it to the one who has the most winners.

If Galway decides to stick with their archaic past next year then, hopefully, at least one bookmaker will make a decision to offer prices on the basis of what punters want and understand. He might even take a bet or two then!

THAT was a fair old gamble landed by the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Intrepid Prince at Galway. He may have been returned at 7-1, but much bigger prices were availed of.

You’d have to say his prospects weren’t overly apparent, with the three-year-old having finished sixth of seven in his prep outing at Fairyhouse previously.

But stepping up a little in trip those who were on knew precisely what they were at. Intrepid Prince scored with so much in hand that it was almost surreal.

Fast forward then two days later at Naas, with Intrepid Prince making a quick reappearance, under a Mandatory 5lbs penalty, after being shoved up 17lbs by the handicapper.

He produced a smooth enough performance to win cosily, but clearly not in a manner that would suggest another visit to the number one berth is likely any time soon.

IT was hard not to smile when hearing the Turf Club are to look further into the Charles Byrnes betting coup with War Anthem, Mr Smith and Top Of The Town at Roscommon on Tuesday night.

Many trainers have tried to do a Byrnes in the past and most attempts, with the notable exception of Barney Curley, have ended in dismal failure.

Any trainer who has a shot at this sort of thing will be more than aware that, to complete what amounts to a particularly difficult task, literally everything has to go right.

Byrnes is to be applauded for winning three bad races with three moderate horses and that should be the end of the matter.

On Thursday the Racing Post afforded the representatives of off-course bookmakers the opportunity to moan about the effect this might have on the integrity of racing.

I’d imagine punters found much of what they heard from them almost comical. Certainly, the numerous punters in Britain and Ireland who have been repeatedly knocked back by such firms, when requesting a half-decent bet, will have their own views on integrity when it comes to most of these outfits.


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