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By David Fowler | Tuesday, January 2, 2018

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

There was once a cardinal rule in protest decisions that stewards had to be satisfied "beyond all reasonable doubt" interference caused should trigger a result reversal.

Sadly, recent events suggests that rule of thumb has been discarded to the waste paper bin.

And carrying the significant capital of being first past the post has also been severely diminished.

If you were rating the strength of upheld decisions, the highest rating would be afforded to horse A not steering a straight path over the final stages and coming into direct contact with horse B whose finishing run was severely impacted.

A no brainer. Universal agreement.

Then we work down the scale. And, as we do, each protest decision should become less likely to be upheld.

That is simple logic.

Successful protest decisions should be the exception not the rule.

Inexplicably, the scales of "justice" (that word used reluctantly) are titling the wrong way.

Stewards are increasingly becoming subjective in protest judgements. In other words, thinking what might have been rather than just considering the evidence at hand.

How can a steward confidently say interference, say 800 metres from home, cost a horse a race ?

It MAY have but that brings me back to the "beyond all reasonable doubt" line.

To repeat, the "first past the post" privilege doesn't seem to garner the respect it once did.

Stewards are paid to administer rules and regulations not to mistakenly believe they are some sort of clever form analyst.


These comments were prompted by the disgraceful decision to uphold a protest at Yarra Glen last Thursday.

This particular stewards' panel took their powers and responsibilities to Nostradamus-type proportions to determine that the slowing of the speed by the leader (and winner) cost the second horse the race.

A slowing of the speed 700 metres out, mind you.

No direct interference between A and B but a subjective judgement that B "may" have beaten A.

This was clearly a racing incident and the jockey of the runner-up was entitled to a throw at the stumps but how this was upheld beggars belief.

I have no drama with the stewards suspending the two jockeys for their slackening of the pace but that does not equate to changing the result of the race.

Apart from the decision being plainly wrong, it also could have set a dangerous precedent for similar objections to be launched in the future.

And if this particular panel is any yardstick, they could also be foolishly upheld.


And another upheld protest came under scrutiny at Randwick on Monday.

This was a more realistic situation in contrast to the bizarre series of events at Yarra Glen.

Second past the post sits outside winner and receives a bump but has the entire straight to get past first past the post who hangs on narrowly.

Some say a 50/50 call but again I defer to the "beyond all reasonable doubt" theory and believe the decision should have been dismissed.


Somewhat appropriately at this time of year, the 2012 Magic Millions upheld result is right up there in the "stinkers" category.

No Looking Back (Nash Rawiller) came from behind Driefontein (Tommy Berry) and went past it to win.

Yet the stewards panel deemed a shift out by No Looking Back on to the tiring Driefontein caused the fading runner-up to lose the race.

Refresh your memory and watch the race on Youtube.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best