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By Graham Potter | Saturday, November 17, 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.

I have the utmost respect for High Bowman both as a professional athlete and as a person so when I use his recent suspension case as an example to show why the workings of the machinery of racing’s disciplinary arm … which either grinds along at a snail’s pace, hesitates or takes a sideward / backward step … can’t always be taken seriously, I am not talking about the person. I am talking about the system.

Bowman’s ride on the second placed Marmelo in the Melbourne Cup attracted three charges … all of which were pretty significant when weighed up in the context that they took place in the highest of profile races where the chase for the $4 million first prize was always going to be … should we say, for want of a better description … very keen.

Bowman was slapped with a careless riding charge, stemming from his actions at the 500m. He was charged with using the whip seven times more than allowed prior to the 100m mark, and finally, to round out an unwanted trifecta, Bowman pulled up more than 0.5kg over his declared weight when only beaten a length by Godolphin’s Cross Counter.

Bowman pleaded guilty to all charges and the total amount of penalty he received was ultimately rounded out to one calendar month. (Twelve meetings for careless riding, eight meetings for the excessive whip use and 21 meetings for the overweight issue).

Bowman appealed the severity of the suspension and got a reduction on all counts … the careless riding penalty down to ten from twelve meetings, the whip use penalty was altered from eight meetings to a $10 000 fine and the weighing in heavy penalty was reduced from 21 meetings to 13 meetings.

This effectively meant that Bowman’s original month-long suspension, which had him returning on December 8, was reduced by ten days. He can now resume on November 28.

That’s Bowman’s good fortune … but you have to question the general routine which invites people to appeal suspensions on the basis that, on past evidence, they will invariably get a reduction of penalty … or better.
It is an old story that goes on and on.

This begs the question … are those originally handed out these penalties not suitably qualified to do so or is the Appeal Board simply too soft when dealing with such matters.

There is enough of a pattern to conclude it must be one or the other.

Neither is really acceptable.

Bowman was also lucky in terms of the week turnaround timeframe in which his appeal was handled. Star local hoop Damian Browne is still awaiting a final outcome … which no end date in sight … of a two month ban he received back in June this year.

That’s scandalous.

We all know the whole of racing’s judicial system needs a complete overhaul.

The question is, why isn’t this on-going, blatant flaw in one of the key areas of racing administration not being addressed?

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Hugh Bowman
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