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By Graham Potter | Monday, April 23, 2018

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

Racing never ceases to surprise.

It has a way of throwing up a new situation when it is least expected ... one that was completely off the radar and not even considered when compiling that dreaded list of things that could go wrong for any horse in any race.

Last Wednesday, at a meeting in Victoria, a horse called Seattle Park missed the start. By jockey Craig Williams reckoning Seattle Park missed four lengths at the break, a margin which ultimately would be deemed by the race-day stewards to have affected the result of the race.

After coming out of the gates late Seattle Park did complete the contest coming home in fourth place.

It was shortly after that when the unexpected twist came into play.

Prior to the jockeys weighing in the starter brought an incident at the start to the steward’s attention making them aware of the fact that Seattle Park’s tail had been caught between the two gates at the back of the barrier when the race started.

A horse’s tail caught in the barriers when the race started!

Even Chief Steward Terry Bailey, with all of his years of experience, said he had never seen or heard of anything like it before.

The story didn’t end there.

A natural progression had to take place from an unusual incident to a follow-up finding ... and here it gets a bit technical.

Under the Rules Of Racing if a horse is denied a fair start but still finishes in the first three places the result must stand ... ie the horse CANNOT be declared a non-runner.

However, if the horse does not finish in the first three places after being denied a fair start it WILL be declared a non-runner.

It is one of those ‘no grey’ rule areas so, in Seattle Park’s case, once stewards had deliberated and found that the incident at the start had affected the result they had no avenue other than to declare the horse a non-runner.

The probability is that not everybody will agree with the ‘set in cement’ rule as it stands.

The certainty is that there is never a dull moment in this game.

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