A lot of people are asking (or sending) the above question, so… here is my view of it.
The raceday was full of controversial Steward decisions…
In Cena Mysa (1000m, Kat I) they decided that the protest I filed regarding the run of the winner EFILY (FR), who went from lane 3 to lane 10 and pushed our PRETORIAN (GB) from lane 7 to (at least) lane 12 is not justified – that being even before they decided on the protest. It is very unusual that the award ceremony is happening while an ongoing protest procedure is still on-going, don’t you agree? But that is not the end of it. They fined EFILY’s jockey LUKAŠEK for that kind of ride. So, why would you fine someone if he did not impede anyone? The reasoning of the stewards was that both horses had to “run longer distance”, where the fact that EFILY was in full flight and PRETORIAN was still gaining speed was not important for them. One of the men, who was involved in this controversial “dealing of the justice” opposed to the others that there was just a small distance between EFILY and PRETORIAN at the finish line and at such short margins the breach of the “running in straight line” rule means a lot, but his reasoning did not prevail. I guess we have to accept that we run on foreign territory, what should be accepted by the betting community, trainers and owners as well.
You will find the video of the race here.
Later on it was our jockey, Alberto SANNA, riding VIVA LEA (CZE) in Cena Pat’s Music (2000m, L), who protested, because he got “squeezed” in between two horses and got bumped from both sides several times. The stewards explained that this is OK and if he had no room, he should make room… SANNA followed their instruction and made some room in the Slovak Derby, riding GLOBAL GENTL (GER), and this time he got fined… So even the jockeys should accept that they ride in foreign territories…
The squeezing and pushing VIVA faced in the race and left her with lacerations on her hind legs is very obvious on Bohumil KRIŽAN photo (see photo No. 26).
The rules are the rules and we should respect them. Unfortunately they are not uniform throughout the racing world, but still… if the authorities use the same rules differently several times in one day, then you begin to ask yourself what in fact is allowed and what is not.
According to turf.sk the Stewards’ decision regarding the run of EFILY was controversial even in the “historical view” of the decisions, accepted and enforced by the people, who should watch over the integrity of Slovak racing. They mention disqualification of GHIMMAMAH in Cena Whisky and demotion of STORMY JAIL in Velka Jarna Cena.
The territorial treatment of foreigners in Bratislava I describe above is not the only instance of the pro-domestic decisions this year. Would you believe that our VALOROUS INFLUENCE (SVK) got “awarded” with a 16 kg raise of his handicap mark for a second place in a Kat III race (usually the horses get from 4 to 6 kilos for a win), putting him just 1 kg below the handicap mark of his brother VAN DAMME (SVK), who won in the same category several times. The excuse for this was that the winning horse had a high flat handicap. OK, you will say, that is the justified position. But why does that not happen with the other horses? Check the horses that were running with our BRUCE FRENKY (FR) that has a high handicap mark due to his placing in Austrian Derby Trial (1700m, L) two years ago. His handicap had no influence whatsoever on the handicap marks of the horses he beat or was placed before them in his races in Bratislava.
It is a pitty that the Stewards in Bratislava operate that way. The track stuff and racing authorities, who are not involved in providing the integrity of the racing, really work hard in keeping the racing alive (what their colleagues in Austria were not able to achieve despite the generous sponsorship of Mr. Stronach), but with such attitude of the “judges” I guess Mr. Prescott will – again – scratch his entries in the future Slovak classic races. Regarding the interference and breaching of the “finish riding in a straight line rule” I would suggest that Bratislava Stewards – instead of being full of arrogance (the respect is easy to achieve from the point of power, much harder from the point of professionalism) – see the footage of GLENEAGLES run in Prix Jean-Luc Legardere. Maybe they will learn something from their French colleagues.