Promising stayer Shotover River has returned to the winners’ circle at the Sunshine Coast aided by a heady ride from Luke Dittman.
The well backed $2.50 favourite, Shotover River beat Volkhere ($3) by 1-3/4 lengths with a half length to Landlocked ($4.40) to win Saturday’s Butler McDermott Lawyers Hcp (2200m).
Correct weight was delayed when Jim Byrne, who rode Landlocked, lodged two protests against Volkhere’s jockey Matt McGillivray.
Byrne alleged McGillivray had breached the rules of racing by striking Volkhere with the whip more than the allowed five times before the 100m.
He also said Volkhere had shifted out from the 250m and impeded Landlocked.
After a lengthy deliberation stewards dismissed both protests.
Chief steward Daniel Aurisch said the panel had taken into account the half length margin when dismissing the protest.
“We can’t be satisfied either leg of your protest would have made a half length difference,” Aurisch said.
But he did indicate stewards would take action against McGillivray for excessive use of the whip before the 100m.
Shotover River’s co-trainer Dan Meagher was full of praise for Dittman who had hatched a plan to make the second favourite Volkhere work hard.
“Luke told us Volkhere was drawn outside him and he wanted to make him work early by going to the lead,” Meagher said.
“Then if something else wanted to lead after going out of the straight we would let them.
“As it turned out Alakris crossed us and led and Shotover River got a perfect run.”
“Luke is a much under-rated apprentice. He is a real thinker.”
Meagher said Shotover River would probably remain in Queensland to chase 2200m races but could eventually take on Sydney company.