Shell-shock result in Perth

Roger James has had his share of Group One highlights, but when it comes to Group One disappointments none will head off what happened in Perth last Saturday.

The Cambridge trainer took a gamble when adding to his trek from New Zealand to Melbourne with a trip to Perth especially to contest the Group I $A1 million Railway Stakes at Ascot with his handsome entire He’s Remarkable. And it looked a gamble which had paid off big time for the He’s Remarkable camp when the four-year-old son of Pentire past the winning post a long neck in front of the local favourite Luckygray.

But what happened within the next hour left James and his owners shell-shocked, let alone most punters and racing fans on both sides of the Tasman. He’s Remarkable was relegated from the Group I triumph for alleged interference near the 600 metres which caused a chain reaction.

The alleged interference occurred when Kerrin McEvoy angled He’s Remarkable off the fence. At that point Warratah’s Secret, who looked to  be squeezed up by a runner on the outer, clipped heels and the chain reaction went through Ranger to Luckygray and another runner. Luckygray lost ground, but in the home straight once into the clear he charged after He’s Remarkable, who had kicked clear, and got within a long neck of the Kiwi galloper.

As the interference occurred 600 metres out and there was no conclusive evidence He’s Remarkable was the culprit it seemed the protest lodged by Luckygray’s rider, Shaun O’Donnell, would be dismissed. But history now shows He’s Remarkable was relegated to second and Luckygray, a very exciting young galloper, was promoted to record his biggest win since he began racing on New Year’s Day.

The controversial relegation has implications much bigger than the $A450,000 winner’s purse. Being an entire He’s Remarkable’s value as a potential sire who have skyrocketed had be registered the Group One win.

“There are a lot of aspects here, but for mine the over-riding one is the principle that to take a group one off a horse there has to be absolutely no doubt about the winner’s culpability,” James told the media. “Not only is there doubt, there was not one piece of evidence produced by stewards that showed it was even He’s Remarkable that caused any interference at all. That alone should have been sufficient to have the protest dismissed.

“I told the inquiry we had to get away from the emotion of a horse [second horse] flashing home and make a decision solely on evidence of who caused the interference. There was no evidence.”

McEvoy certainly didn’t help He’s Remarkable’s chances of holding the race when quickly pleading guilty to the careless riding charge and offering little
in the way of resistance to the protest. McEvoy was suspended for 28 days, beginning on Wednesday and being up to and including December 22.

The relegation brought back memories of the highly controversial relegation of Poetic Prince when Marwong was awarded the Caulfield Guineas in the inquiry room. That relegation still stings rider Noel Harris and trainer John Wheeler, as well as owners Gary Pratt and Warren Bolton.