Cambridge trainer Roger James is refusing to believe there was anything sinister in a decision to relegate He's Remarkable, who won Saturday's A$1 million Railway Stakes in Perth only to lose it in the protest room.
The decision to relegate He's Remarkable for alleged interference 600m from home in the Gr I race at Ascot was roundly criticised with several respected Australian media personalities taking to twitter to vent their condemnation of the change of placings.
Shaun O'Donnell, rider of the runner-up Luckygray, lodged the protest, which was upheld when stewards deemed the ground that horse lost was greater than the long neck margin at the end of the race.
James was bitterly disappointed with the decision to relegate He's Remarkable to second and said he had discussed the decision with several prominent Australian media identities, including one who had described it as a "rort''.
However, he refused to buy into those suggestions.
"Look, I just tend to think it was a bad decision. I don't know if you can bring anything like that into it,'' James said.
"If you are going to change the placings in a Gr I race, it's got to be black and white, and it was far from that, and that's what I said to them.
"You've got to be able to stand up and say conclusively this was the situation, and I said we've heard all the evidence, watched all the films and I've yet to see anything conclusive and that's got to be the bottom line.
"There was absolutely no evidence that was compelling in saying it was our horse that caused the interference that caused the clip of heels that started the chain reaction.
"I asked them to show us some evidence of where they could prove that it was our horse that caused the incident and they couldn't do that, but the ruling still went against us.
"Gutted is a reasonable word to use. I was disappointed at the result in the inquiry room to say the least.''
Posters on Australian racing forums have expressed their disbelief that a decision to change the placings were made, while the ruling had social media website twitter.com abuzz.
Sky Racing presenter and Racing Retro panellist Ron Dufficy tweeted: "Well well well was that a home town decision. WOW'', while Sky Racing presenter and Radio Sport National radio host Shane Anderson wrote: "Railway Stakes protest being upheld is ridiculous decision'' and ``Worst decision I have ever seen in racing''.
Blair Hardy wrote: "Biggest disgrace to nz since Trevor Chappell's underarm'', while in New Zealand, former Trackside presenter Jason Tan tweeted: "That's just a terrible terrible thing for racing that decision'' and described the ruling as "a blight on racing''.
There was so much derision of the ruling that it led to Perth Racing issuing the following tweet: "Just to clarify for the punters, the stewards are part of Racing and Wagering WA (RWWA) and PR does not have any role in the steward process.''
James said he was feeling "pretty sorry for himself'' when he got back to his hotel on Saturday night, having spent time explaining the situation to his owners, answering messages of support from friends and talking with media and other trainers at the races.
"[Sky Racing presenter] Greg Radley stopped me on the way out last night and he was aghast,'' James said.
"I've had several media on the phone to me today and they've said they can't believe it.
"On Racing Retro this morning they put it on Ron Dufficy and Richard Freedman on what they would have done and they both said they would have dismissed the protest.
"Greg Radley showed me the messages on his phone and guys had text him saying `what a rort', and I ran into [trainer] David Hayes and he said `you were robbed', but that didn't make it any easier.''
James said he had tried to take a philosophical approach in that He's Remarkable would now go into next year's A$2 million Doncaster Handicap (1600m) in Sydney with 2kg less weight.
But having won then lost a Gr I A$1 million Australian race with a budding stallion prospect, he said it was hard finding much solace anywhere.
James noted that Pentire four-year-old entire He's Remarkable finished second to Jimmy Choux in last year's Gr I 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton, having to be ridden hands and heels when rider Matthew Cameron's whip broke early in the run home, the horse had missed a start in the Gr I A$1 million Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington earlier this month, then won on the undercard carrying 7kg more, and now lost the Railway Stakes in the inquiry room.
"I feel sorry for my owners but I feel gutted for the horse. He should in all fairness have three Gr I miles by his name, and in all probability should have had two,'' James said.
McEvoy was suspended for 28 days, beginning at the end of racing on Wednesday up till December 21.
- Waikato Times