I admit it was a pleasure watching Mike Dean referee the Prem games. A little strange, I know.
I think the only thing he loves more than being the center of attention is what he sees in the mirror every morning.
It’s an unwritten rule of the office that the game shouldn’t be about you – if you’re not discussed afterwards, you’ve probably done a good job.
Deano was an idiot for exactly that reason, but I think he got away with it because he was one of the best around… and he was pretty damn entertaining at it.
But when it comes to racing, the Stewards should NEVER be the focus.
They direct the sport from the safe room of the stewards, where every conceivable angle is covered by HD camera footage.
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Racing is a sport where decisions are made in split seconds, but race officials have the luxury of taking as much time as necessary to spot potential ‘fouls’.
So you know something has gone terribly wrong when words like “junk” and “incompetent” are floating around.
I am not exaggerating when I say that two of the decisions taken in Ireland last week are among the worst I have seen.
The first real bang came in Kilbeggan when the sleepy stewards let race winner Rachael Blackmore off scot-free after she seemed – quite obviously to me – to have finished a leg early.
Riding the 8-1 shot Lady Rita, she shook the reins and pushed her to a six-length lead after the “last,” then began pulling her up as she passed the winner’s post with one round to go.
It was a bad mistake that happens, we see it at least a few times a year so it’s not pop at Blackmore.
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In the stewards’ room, she waved her arm and said she hadn’t finished early but the mare got “tired” when she asked her to canter.
The stewards told Blackmore that they were not entirely convinced by her reasoning, but to the astonishment of everyone, including probably her, decided against taking action.
Too much paperwork for you guys?
Thankfully, the elite of Irish racing have recognized that this was a PR disaster and have since stepped in, announcing that they will be conducting an investigation.
Ireland’s stewards didn’t have much of a grace period, however, as they dropped another clanger a few days later in Killarney.
The well-known nine-year-old Saldier made a right-angle jump on the last obstacle, nearly tripping his rival Vina Ardanza and costing him a lot of momentum.
The attacker, owned by Rich Ricci, narrowly stayed at the finish line so it looked like a direct reversal of the placings – but they let Willie Mullins’ horse keep the race!
I would argue that the runner up lost at least a length due to the disruption and that the horse’s owners will win the race on appeal.
I think it’s time we checked what they’re putting in their tea over there.
From a shambles to a collapse because I believe our former champion Silvestre De Sousa was treated very harshly by the authorities in Hong Kong.
They’re not kidding out there – the Stewards rule with an iron fist and are notorious for imposing harsh penalties.
But to ban De Sousa for 10 months for his role in a “betting scandal” seems outrageous.
His Brazilian pal and fellow jockey Victor Borges admitted placing a bet on one of his own rides at Happy Valley and was banned for 12 months.
From what I’ve learned, De Sousa was hit with an almost as severe ban simply because he knew of Borges’ intention to place a bet – and failed to report his pal to the authorities.
I feel very sorry for him, I think he was wrongly made an example of. I hope he succeeds in his calling.
When he looks in the mirror he still sees a modern day legend of the sport – just like my pal Deano.
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