Connections of Simple Verse have won their appeal against the demotion of the filly from first place in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster.
A disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority reversed the decision of the local stewards to promote the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bondi Beach into top spot in the final Classic of the season on September 12.
A stewards’ inquiry was called on the day as the pair appeared to bump twice in the closing stages and there was only a head between them at the line. Following a tense wait, during which jockey Andrea Atzeni and Bondi Beach’s rider Colm O’Donoghue argued their respective cases in front of the stewards live on Channel 4, the announcement was made that Simple Verse had been placed second.
The decision shocked her trainer Ralph Beckett, owners Qatar Racing and Atzeni. Straight away they announced their intention to appeal.
Beckett and Atzeni were supported at the hearing at High Holborn in London by David Redvers, racing manager for the owners, Graeme McPherson QC, instructing solicitor Andrew Chalk and Qatar Racing representatives John Maxse and Kevin Darley.
O’Brien and O’Donoghue represented Bondi Beach alongside John Kelsey-Fry QC and instructing solicitor Kevin Power.
Beckett and Qatar Racing are also currently involved in a high-profile hearing with the Illinois Racing Board across the Atlantic in an attempt to have Secret Gesture reinstated as the winner of the Beverly D Stakes following her relegation to third place at Arlington Park in Chicago. Beckett said: “For me, under our rules, we always had an excellent case, given what has been going on on our racecourses for the last five years in similar instances.
“I was confident the panel would see it our way but obviously you can never be sure.
“It’s not quite the same, and it’s never going to be quite the same, in the sense of when you have it taken away on the day. It was horrendous at the time and it’s been a pretty miserable 11 days for those who live and work with me. It’s not been much fun.”
Simple Verse had been supplemented for the Leger at a cost of £50,000 after winning a Group Three at Glorious Goodwood, which itself had represented a step up in class following a Salisbury handicap win in June.
Beckett said: “It was a big call by us to supplement her in the first place, as she was a filly who only won off 82 in June.
“We had all our ducks in a row and to have it taken away was sickening – to get it back is terrific, but to do it like this is not the way you want to do it. Justice has been done, but I’m never going to feel about this win the way I did the two Oaks.”
Atzeni said: “On the day I was heartbroken and was very sad. However, there are worse things in life and at least we got it back and we can move forward now.”
Five to follow
1, Little Swift (tonight, 5.45pm Chelmsford): Represents an in-form trainer and can make all the running.
2, Clary (tonight, 7.15pm Chelmsford): Seeks hat-trick and value for further than the winning margin last time.
3, Rainbow Pride (tonight, 8.15pm Chelmsford): Sir Mark Prescott’s charge has six entries in the next five days hinting improvement is forthcoming.
4, Promising Run (tomorrow, 3.05pm Newmarket): Lived up to her name last time and could take this step up to G2 in her stride.
5, Time Test (tomorrow, 3.40pm Newmarket): Clearly sets the standard and should be a good thing under Frankie Dettori.
JAMES FANSHAWE: The trainer nicknamed the skeleton man approached yesterday’s action with a 43 per cent strike rate. High Eldwick trainer Sue Smith is also going well.
STUART WILLIAMS: The Newmarket-based trainer’s Chief Entertainer was hammered into evens on Tuesday but finished just sixth, one of several beaten Williams favourites lately.