STARTING procedures, which have long been a bone of contention in this country, were again in the spotlight at Listowel yesterday.
Following the Dawn Milk Handicap Chase the stewards received a complaint from Ruby Walsh and Paul Carberry that after a false start the starter, Val O’Connell, had instructed the riders to walk back from the tape and to take a turn at the break in the rail and, while some did as they were told, a number of others disobeyed his orders.
The contention from Walsh and Carberry was that those who did as they were instructed were placed at a disadvantage.
They complained they were penalised for co-operating, while others, who disobeyed the instructions, appeared to benefit.
Walsh and Carberry also indicated that the starts, both at Listowel and in general, are very unsatisfactory, with many riders becoming frustrated and disillusioned with the situation.
O’Connell confirmed he had instructed the riders to move back to the break in the rail and, while a number did as requested, the area at the start was quite tight and not all were able to get back fully.
He then told those who found themselves in front to wait until those at the back had turned and were able to move forward. He instigated the start when satisfied all horses were in a group facing forward. The stewards accepted the complaint and felt there were problems generally with starts recently, both in terms of discipline and the layout of tracks. The matter was referred onto the Chief Executive of the Turf Club for further investigation.
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