Remarkable Railway Ruling May Be Appealed

Roger James has spoken with one of Perth's top lawyers as he investigates appealing the contentious decision to relegate star Cambridge galloper He's Remarkable in last Saturday's A$1 million Railway Stakes.

He's Remarkable won the 1600m Ascot feature but was relegated to second, behind Perth galloper Luckygray, in a ruling which still has James in disbelief.

Perth stewards deemed the ground that Luckygray lost in an incident 600m from home was greater than the long neck margin at the end of the race and promoted that horse to first place.

James said after the race that there was no evidence to prove He's Remarkable had caused the incident and was "gutted'' the decision went against him.

"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,'' he said.

Since then James has returned home to Cambridge but yesterday said the matter was far from over.

"It's consumed my whole life since then and I'm totally exhausted by it,'' he said.

"Everyone I've talked to has been very well-meaning. The communication I've had from throughout Australia has just been quite incredible and to a person they cannot believe the decision, and from Western Australia as well.

"In the chairman's room at Ascot after the races on Saturday, people were walking up to me that I'd never even met and to a man their were genuinely apologetic.

"There were 20,000 people there on Saturday and I was walking out afterwards and people were coming up to me and saying `I can't believe it - that was just a shocking decision'.

"The informed people that have taken time to contact me since then has been overwhelming.''

James was told on Saturday that there were no grounds for an appeal but yesterday learned it was an option.

"I went to the stewards an hour afterwards and asked what avenues were available to me for the likes of an appeal - and I questioned them on it - but they gave me a very strong indication they only way was through a procedural error and not the decision itself.

"I've just got off the phone to a West Australian QC, who owns 30 horses himself and has spent a lifetime in racing, and he said that was not correct. He said you have the penalty appeals tribunal and if you appeal they will put in front of three people to revisit it.

"The owners are going through the process of considering every possible option. We should have been putting to bed on Saturday night a horse that was worth $4 million to $5 million.

"He's a stud prospect. He's got a lovely, current pedigree and an Australian Gr I [win] would have escalated his value immensely. You get away from the A$450,000 in prizemoney the owners have lost out on it - it's more the horse's reputation and CV.''

Auckland businessmen Gerard Peterson, Rod Baulcomb and John Struthers race Pentire four-year-old He's Remarkable, a $360,000 yearling purchase for James at Karaka in 2009.

James said an appeal had to be lodged within 14 days of the race.

"It's going to be a costly process but the owners are business people and it's certainly not out of the question that we go ahead,'' James said.

"I've looked at the decision from every possible angle and however you look at it, it's a bad decision.

"It's been taxing because you are trying to be a good sport and trying to do the best by your owners, and I've been through it 1000 times.

"I feel pretty washed out by it all but I'm going to see it through to the end and whether we appeal or not, it won't be through a lack of consideration of every factor.''

Consensus of opinion was that the decision to relegate was the wrong one, with several high-profile media identities condemning the ruling.

Australian media personality Ron Dufficy described the relegation as ``a home town decision'', while respected Australian racing broadcaster Shane Anderson took to twitter with: ``Railway Stakes protest being upheld is ridiculous decision'' and ``Worst decision I have ever seen in racing''.

Such was the derision of the ruling that Perth Racing used twitter to distance itself from the judicial process: ``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 even since returning home from Perth yesterday he had continued to be inundated with calls of support and encouragement to ``put a stake in the ground'' with an appeal.

While the relegation had left a sour taste in his mouth, he was not ruling out a future trip to Perth.

"I'd go back, yes. They treated us like kings until this decision. And we've all seen bad judicial decisions in New Zealand and in other states of Australia.''

Asked whether he would consider taking He's Remarkable back for next year's Railway, he said: ``Possibly, but by then I'd hope he'd be carrying too much weight in handicaps to warrant going. We're focussing on a Doncaster preparation now and that's our complete focus for the autumn.''

He's Remarkable flies back to New Zealand on Sunday and will have a month's break before returning to work in preparation for the A$2 million Doncaster Handicap (1600m) at Randwick, in Sydney, on April 21.

- Waikato Times

Posted: Wed 23 Nov 2011