Connections of the heavily tried $2.00 favourite in race 6 at Sale yesterday are entitled to be miffed.
And, while I’m not advocating they go the way of Gary and Mary West, who own Maximum Security, the dethroned Kentucky Derby winner and take action in the courts, at the very least the stewards need to look into this.
Firstly, the horse in question, PAKAYA PRINCE was part of a three horse war down the home straight, failing in the end by a long neck.
But here’s the thing.
He was struck with the unlucky stick all race. Firstly he cast a plate, meaning he lost a shoe, after about 250m of the race. It is a miracle or an act of God that the shoe didn’t hit a rival hoop. It was flung from one of his hind legs straight back at speed into the air but it found a gap between a couple of horses and fell harmlessly to the track.
The losing of the plate makes a horse strike the ground in an unbalanced way.
But that aside, Pakaya Prince soldiered on and went to the lead straight away, only to be taken on in front by the $15 shot, So White. And they carved out an amazing up front pace, being 4 lengths clear of the chasing HEIR TO THE THRONE who was 3 lengths clear of the remaining pack.
And that’s how they all stayed up to, then around the home bend and well into the straight.
Pakaya Prince, who had 58.5kg was giving his all and was defying So White with 52.5kg all the way down the straight. It was an intense, eyeball to eyeball battle.
This was until Heir To the Throne came along under heavy pressure.
Now, there is a very clear whip use rule in place in Australia. Jockeys CANNOT hit their horse more than five times prior to the last 100m mark.
Stewards around the country have been able to use their discretion in recent months over penalising jockeys who flout the rule, taking into account the totality of whip strikes including over the closing stages of a race.
But any jockey who has surpassed the limit before the 100-metre juncture has been previously automatically reprimanded, which is noted on their record.
Not this time.
Damian Thornton on Heir To The Throne struck his mount 9 times before the 100m mark. Nearly double the legal amount and he struck him hard so that he would set out after the two leaders.
He also struck him another 4 times within the red markers (final 100m). Yet, and here’s the thing that should aggrieve the connections of his rivals, Thornton was neither reprimanded, spoken to, fined or have this placed on his record. In fact NO mention of the obvious infraction even appeared in the steward’s report.
In recent years the racing industry has made a series of changes to the Rules of Racing with regard to whip use. On a positive note, the rules now ensure that both forehand and backhand strikes are now covered by the five-strike limit. However, the rules have been reworded to allow Stewards to exercise more discretion when determining breaches of this limit.
The revised rules mean that jockeys who exceed five strikes can sometimes avoid being penalised if they do not whip their horse during the final 100 metres.
If the stewards at Sale saw this and used their discretionary powers, then EVERY jockey including the six from the last Melbourne Cup who were heavily fined for over use of the whip, should go on strike.
I beseech you, and the stewards, to watch the replay. Heir To The throne was lifted across the wire winning by a nose.
With the RSPCA in Australia calling for bans on all whip use, and US Senators calling for the banning of horse racing altogether this week in parts of the US, it MUST be time we restricted whip use again.
Or at the very least, impose penalties where obvious breaches of the rule exist.
This was an outrage….oh, and I backed Heir To The Throne which is how/why I saw all this happen.