Things We Learned » Dangerous precedent

Dangerous precedent

The problem with the interference rules now as they stand in France – and as they stand in Ireland and Britain – is that there is a lack of certainty.  You can’t say for certain that Romanised definitely would have won Sunday’s Prix du Moulin had Circus Maximus not moved to his left on his inside.  And you can’t say for certain that he definitely wouldn’t.

And when there is a lack of certainty, you introduce an element of subjectivity. And while subjectivity is a friend in many walks of life, it is the enemy of the definitive. 

If you false start in a 110-metre hurdle race, you are disqualified.  It doesn’t matter that you were the fastest man in the line-up.  If you step out of your lane in a 400-metre race, you are thrown out.  Black and white.  It doesn’t matter that you were the best athlete in the race, or that you were 10 metres clear.  

The rules say that a horse should be disqualified if, on the balance of probability, the horse with whom he interfered would have finished in front of him had the interference not taken place.  Therein lies the problem.  What is the balance of probability?  50-50?  80-20?  Therein lies the subjectivity.

Precedent dictates that the horse who passes the winning line first gets the benefit of the doubt, and that is a dangerous precedent.  Not only does that go against common sense – that the aggressor should be favoured – but it also creates a precarious environment.  Get to the winning line first by whatever means you deem to be necessary, then take your chances in the stewards’ room, where you know that the benefit of the doubt will be in your favour.

“He probably would have won anyway.”

We have been here before.  At the very least, the benefit of the doubt should go to the aggressee, not the aggressor.

Jump girls

There was one female jockey riding in the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel on Wednesday, Rachael Blackmore, who won the race on the Henry de Bromhead-trained Poker Party.

The rider gave her horse a really good ride too, a thoughtful ride.  She got her horse nicely settled towards the rear of the field behind the fast pace.  Settled towards the outside, she got him travelling and jumping.

She didn’t panic when the leaders kicked on down the back straight.  She just sat and allowed them at it, kept her horse in his rhythm.  She didn’t really ask her horse to pick up until they straightened up for home and faced up to the second last fence.  And when she did, Brian Acheson’s horse picked up well, and he actually touched down in front over the second last.  After that, it was just a case of riding him out, seeing a stride at the last, and hoping that he had enough energy to get him home.

He had.

Incidentally, there was one female rider in the Guinness Kerry National too in 2014, Katie Walsh, who rode the 25/1 shot Your Busy to victory.  There were two female riders in the race in 2016, and one of them, Lisa O’Neill, won it on Wrath Of Titans.  And there were two female riders in the race in 2017, and one of them, Lisa O’Neill again, won it on Potters Point.  

That’s four of the last six years in which the winner of the Kerry National has been ridden by a female jockey.  Jump girls indeed.

Six Group 1s 

Six Group 1 races, and the highlight of the weekend could be a one-mile contest worth €100, in which the highest-rated horse boasts a handicap rating of 91.  It could be some day, it could be some weekend, and it’s worth checking out before you leave your house on Sunday morning.

Djingle dances in

Djingle put up a really impressive performance in winning the beginners’ chase at Listowel on Tuesday. 

Allowed go to the front at the first fence by Adrian Heskin, John Queally’s horse’s jumping was fast and fluent, and he had all his rivals in trouble before he got to the top of the home straight. 

He has been a free-going sort in the past, and there was a danger that his early exertions could have taken their toll over the last two fences, but that wasn’t the case at all.  On the contrary, he ran all the way through the line, and it took Adrian Heskin a little while to pull him up after it.

A dual winner for Arnaud Chaille-Chaille in France over hurdles, the McNeills’ horse didn’t manage to win for Paul Nicholls, and this was his third run over fences for John Queally, but he is getting the hang of things on this evidence, and he could progress again now.  Le Richebourg won this race last year and went on to win three of his next four races, including two Grade 1 contests.  JP McManus’ horse went to Tipperary on his next run after Listowel and won the Grade 3 Like-A-Butterfly Chase, and that would be a legitimate target for Djingle now.

All-Ireland musings 

It’s going to be a tough call today: Sovereign Path Handicap or All-Ireland Final replay throw-in, both set for 6.00pm.  It could be a split-screen-scenario.

© The Irish Field, 14th September 2019