Mon | Jan 22, 2018

David Miller | Speaking from emotions

Published:Friday | August 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
David Miller

In a recent interview, Mike Fennell, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), stated that the JOA had consulted extensively with key stakeholders in the selection of the location of the training camp for Jamaica's track and field team for the Rio Olympic Games.

This was an effort of the JOA to protect the integrity of Team Jamaica, while reducing the likelihood of conflicting views between the aforementioned stakeholders being aired in public, and the possibility of 'bad' press or distasteful comments from persons directly involved.

Contrast this with the talk and public utterances that followed the recent running of the Cal's Jamaica Derby, specifically, the chatter surrounding the stewards' decisions to disqualify Future King and Bigdaddykool for different reasons in separate incidents. Horsemen, punters and racing fans will almost always voice differing views on stewards' decisions and the interpretation of the rules governing the decision-making process.

Some persons will speak from emotions, some will speak from their 'pockets', some will speak on behalf of the friends, and almost all will speak as knowledgeable, experienced experts.

Interestingly, several self-proclaimed experts argued that a grave injustice had been done by the stewards. And they did so in a manner that questioned the integrity of those in charge of horse racing by challenging the stewards' independence and objectivity and suggesting that they were incompetent and lacking knowledge of the basic rules of the sport. Some would say these self-proclaimed experts brought the sport into disrepute.

In the 100m finals of the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, the infamous Usain Bolt fast-started and was immediately disqualified from the race. That is the relevant rule in that sport and it was duly applied. But the self-proclaimed experts voiced that the relevant rules should not be made applicable in the biggest race in horse racing.

Therefore, when Future King runs sideways for the entire length of the straightaway, causing Bigdaddykool, who was directly beside him, to run sideways and causing Bigdaddykool's jockey to lose his whip and steer his mount awkwardly without being able to give maximum effort, the self-proclaimed experts attempted to convince the public that Future King did nothing wrong and embarked on a journey to discredit the stewards.

It is interesting that learned counsel who represented Future King in the appeal to the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) claimed that Future King's jockey was not given the opportunity of explaining his views to the stewards of the day. It is my understanding that under the applicable rules, the stewards may make decisions without hearing from any other party. This is the same learned counsel who served as a commissioner of the JRC not too long ago; and who has argued several cases before the JRC over an umpteen number of years.




I believe that he should know the rules which he used to enforce. So it begs the question: Why, while serving as a commissioner, did he not make his voice be heard that these two sets of rules should be changed?

It is notable that none of these self-proclaimed experts mentioned the likelihood that the half-mile incident in which Bigdaddykool was disqualified may have been caused by Future King. Did they not see the film before speaking so authoritatively? Or was it another case of selective memory?

A number of persons who sat through the marathon hearing at the JRC formed the view that Future King should have been disqualified for the half-mile incident and should, therefore, have been placed in fourth position.

The commissioners endured a marathon ordeal in listening to learned counsel and made the correct decision: that is, the relevant rules should be made applicable.

In examining learned counsel's final submission, that he would be contemplating taking the matter to the Supreme Court, one wonders whether he is again speaking as a self-proclaimed expert. Two independent bodies appointed to handle such matters have decided in the same manner. Is the court likely to decide differently?

Perhaps there are points of procedure that the stewards, the JRC and us, as mere students, all missed. For now, we, as students, punters and fans, hope to see the three colts continue to fight it out on the racetrack.

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