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Head to head finish sparks controversy at Caymanas Park

Published:Thursday | February 26, 2015 | 12:00 AMOrville Clarke
Jockey Omar Walker (partially hidden) aboard ST. BERNARD nods PRINCE OSHAUN with Shane Ellis in the saddle on the finish line to win the $350,000-$300,000 3-Y-O & UP Claiming race over 1300 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday.

A controversial photo finish between the 16-1 outsider ST BERNARD and 7-5 favourite PRINCE O'SHAUN sparked heated exchanges after the fifth race over 1,300 metres at Caymanas Park yesterday.

Following a neck and neck duel throughout the last furlong between long-time leader ST BERNARD, ridden by four-time champion Omar Walker, and PRINCE O'SHAUN with Shane Ellis aboard, ST BERNARD on the inside was adjudged the winner by a nose.

This did not go down well among the vast majority of turfites, who thought the favourite on the outside had obliged.

Although to the naked eye it appeared that PRINCE O'SHAUN had withstood a powerful rally from ST BERNARD in the final stride, the camera went against him.

Many turfites reacted angrily to the result and there was commotion in some sections of the stands and North Lounge area. To make matters worse, no photo-finish image was posted on the monitors and it was later announced that this was due to technical difficulties.

However, one or two photo finish pictures were shown to disgruntled punters who assembled in the vicinity of the stewards' room as a mark of protest. But not even this was enough to convince them that the Andrew McDonald-trained ST BERNARD was, in fact, the winner.

It nearly got out of hand when the result was declared official, but with track security on alert to cope with any ugly incidents, the outcry was more verbal than physical, with many shouting "robbery".

A member of the stewards' panel said he thought PRINCE O'SHAUN had thwarted a great fight back from Omar Walker in the final surge.

"However, we were proven wrong by the photo, which was extremely close."

It was so close that neither jockey was confident on the way back to the winners' enclosure. And to many in the stands, it could have been declared a dead-heat.

Meanwhile, the consistent DEO VOLENTE overcame a very slow start to win the $550,000-$500,000 claiming race over 1,300 metres feature event on the nine-race programme.

Although walking out of the starting gate and badly outpaced in the seven-horse field - as highly fancied MERU (3-2) led into the straight - DEO VOLENTE got into top gear approaching the distance, sweeping past the leaders MERU and BOLD AVIATOR (5-2) early in the last furlong to beat the latter by 21/2 lengths as the 4-5 favourite.

The six-year-old son of War Marshall was ridden by leading jockey Robert Halledeen for champion trainer Wayne DaCosta and top owner Carlton Watson, who had a second winner in 7-1 chance MISS ADDI for trainer Lorne Kirlew in the sixth race for maidens.

Walker had a second winner on the card in CAUSE FOR CONCERN, who romped the opening race for $180,000 claimers as the even-money favourite.