Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Paul Wright: Governors of horse racing need to act

Published:Tuesday | April 19, 2016 | 4:00 AM

A lot has been written regarding the appointment of 52 Government boards whose members were, as The Gleaner columnist Gordon Robinson puts it, "considered, vetted and approved in absolute secrecy".

It goes without saying that ideally, in a modern democracy, such appointments would be subject to scrutiny from the very people who would be affected by an unsuitable (incompetent) appointee. But the reality is that we have to live with it until we the people, understand and use our power to force elected representatives to govern on our behalf, not theirs or their 'pardies'.

In the popular sport of horse racing, there appeared in the Track and Pools publication of April 13, the results of an appeal heard by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC). This appeal was held on April 7. The facts outlined in the report of the appeal were that a horse, PRINCE OSHAUN, trained by Colin Blair and ridden by the apprentice jockey, Bebeto Harvey, won the fourth race on the 28th November 2015.

At the conclusion of the race there was a Stewards Inquiry, where the film of the race was reviewed. After the review, the winner, PRINCE OSHAUN, was disqualified for intimidation and interference to horses #5, MONEY NEVER SLEEP and horse #15, ROMAN SPY. Therefore, all those punters on and off the racetrack who had backed PRINCE OSHAUN, lost their money as second-past-the-post GRAND CORAZON was now declared to be the winner.

However, at the appeal, the aggrieved trainer submitted that his horse (PRINCE OSHAUN) came down from the outside after the interference occurred and could not have intimidated any other horse or jockey.

Mr Blair further submitted that if his horse, PRINCE OSHAUN, was not in the race, the infractions that happened would have still occurred.

The trainers' submissions at the appeal reflected the opinions of fans of racing who were present in the North Lounge at the Caymanas racetrack on that fateful day.

 

UPHELD THE APPEAL

The appellate body reviewed the film of the race and listened to evidence from Harvey and Operation Steward Robert Clark. Its conclusion was that PRINCE OSHAUN could not have intimidated any other horse or jockey, and upheld the appeal.

Thus, the new results would reflect that PRINCE OSHAUN was, indeed, the winner and directed that the appropriate adjustment to the purses be made.

Unfortunately, those knowledgeable punters who had selected PRINCE OSHAUN to win the race (and who witnessed PRINCE OSHAUN winning the race) have absolutely no possibility of being rewarded for their correct decision, while those responsible for this error is allowed to say, "oops", and continue to adjudicate on races ostensibly to keep making these errors with absolutely no possibility of any sanction, while punters are actively encouraged to "come on down to the track and support the sport of kings".

Here now is an opportunity for the new commission to inject some long-lost confidence in the administration of the sport by taking decisive action against any member of staff whose actions repeatedly are found (on appeal) to have no basis in fact.

Those responsible for these (numerous) errors only serve to turn off punters (the lifeblood of the sport) as there are many alternatives for the betting dollar. Racing cannot afford to keep alienating those whose money keeps the sport alive. For even though there was no parliamentary vetting and public comment on their suitability, competence or integrity, the sport of kings, horse racing, needs board members to do the right thing.