Roger James yesterday admitted he was devastated that an application to appeal He's Remarkable's controversial relegation in November's Gr I A$1 million Railway Stakes in Perth was declined.
A Western Australian Penalties Tribunal panel heard an application from He's Remarkable's connections in Perth on Tuesday night but ruled against granting leave to appeal the relegation.
The tribunal decision has not gone down well with He's Remarkable's connections - James and owners Gerard Peterson, Rod Baulcomb and John Struthers, who were represented in the hearing by top Perth lawyers Tom Percy QC and Gerald Yin.
"I'm bitterly disappointed really,'' James said yesterday.
"Our counsel went into the hearing very positive we'd get a successful outcome. They believed we had a clearly stronger case than any they had researched and they presented the case wonderfully well.
"They were just gobsmacked with the decision. We felt and they felt the evidence was compelling that the appeal should be able to proceed.''
Perth stewards deemed the ground that Luckygray lost in an incident 600m from home in the Railway Stakes (1600m) was greater than the long neck margin at the end of the race and promoted that horse to first place.
But James has steadfastly condemned the decision, claiming there was no evidence to say that He's Remarkable had caused the incident.
Peterson was able to listen, but not participate, in to Tuesday night's hearing through a phone link and he was full of praise for the case Percy and Yin presented, which included a 1 3/4-hour examination of the race and the incident at the 600m, precedent cases and evidence from other jockeys.
James said the case for an appeal was bolstered with two of the three jockeys in the original hearing changing their statements in He's Remarkable's favour and evidence that Big Ted, the horse at the centre of the interference, had appeared in stewards reports on no fewer than 17 occasions - more than half his starts - many relating to erratic racing.
Connections still have the avenue of appealing the Penalties Tribunal decision in the Supreme Court but James said that would be a costly exercise and it was ``very unlikely'' that further appeals would take place.
Our counsel felt very frustrated. They felt last night how we felt on raceday. They felt sure they were home. It's no wonder there's only been three appeals granted in the last 40 years,'' James said.
He's Remarkable has been back in work with James since Christmas as he builds a base fitness for an Australian autumn campaign that will take in the Gr III A$125,000 Newcastle Newmarket Handicap (1400m) on March 21 and the Gr I A$2 million Doncaster Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on April 21.
- Waikato Times