At The Races

Race Cards, Odds & Results Mon 27th Sep

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First 5 Races
  1. 10:20 - Craon, 6f 101y
  2. 10:50 - Craon, 2m 4f 83y
  3. 11:20 - Craon, 1m 2f 205y
  4. 11:50 - Craon, 1m 5f 147y
  5. 12:00 - Durbanville, 6f 211y
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 13:50 - 5f 160y
  3. 14:25 - 1m
  4. 14:55 - 1m 2f 37y
  5. 15:30 - 5f 10y
  6. 16:00 - 1m
  7. 16:30 - 1m
  8. 17:00 - 5f 160y
  9. 17:35 - 1m 5f 11y
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 13:10 - 5f 7y
  3. 13:40 - 5f 7y
  4. 14:15 - 6f 6y
  5. 14:45 - 1m 1f 35y
  6. 15:20 - 1m 68y
  7. 15:50 - 1m 68y
  8. 16:20 - 1m 4f 15y
  9. 16:50 - 6f 6y
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 16:55 - 1m 2f 42y
  3. 17:30 - 7f 14y
  4. 18:00 - 7f 14y
  5. 18:30 - 7f 14y
  6. 19:00 - 5f
  7. 19:30 - 1m 5y
  8. 20:00 - 7f 14y
  9. 20:30 - 6f
Newton Abbot
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 13:00 - 2m 2f 110y
  3. 13:30 - 2m 167y
  4. 14:05 - 2m 5f 122y
  5. 14:37 - 2m 5f 122y
  6. 15:10 - 3m 2f 105y
  7. 15:42 - 2m 4f 216y
  8. 16:12 - 2m 75y
Roscommon (IRE)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 13:20 - 1m 7f 89y
  3. 13:55 - 1m 7f 89y
  4. 14:30 - 2m 3f 209y
  5. 15:00 - 3m 48y
  6. 15:35 - 2m 120y
  7. 16:05 - 2m 5f 97y
  8. 16:40 - 1m 7f 89y
Craon (France)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 10:20 - 6f 101y
  3. 10:50 - 2m 4f 83y
  4. 11:20 - 1m 2f 205y
  5. 11:50 - 1m 5f 147y
  6. 12:25 - 1m 44y
  7. 13:07 - 1m 5f 174y
  8. 13:42 - 1m 44y
  9. 14:17 - 2m 1f 87y
  10. 14:52 - 1m 2f 205y
Durbanville (RSA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 12:00 - 6f 211y
  3. 12:35 - 4f 214y
  4. 13:15 - 4f 214y
  5. 13:55 - 6f 47y
  6. 14:30 - 6f 47y
  7. 15:05 - 7f 210y
  8. 15:40 - 6f 211y
  9. 16:15 - 6f 211y
Mauquenchy (France)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 12:50 - 1m 2f 151y
  3. 13:25 - 1m 2f 151y
  4. 14:00 - 1m 6f 36y
  5. 14:35 - 1m 6f 36y
  6. 15:10 - 1m 6f 36y
  7. 15:45 - 1m 6f 36y
  8. 16:20 - 1m 2f 151y
  9. 16:55 - 1m 2f 151y
Vichy (France)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. 15:27 - 1m 1f 43y
  3. 16:02 - 6f 211y
  4. 16:37 - 6f 211y
  5. 17:12 - 1m 1f 207y
  6. 17:45 - 1m 1f 43y
  7. 18:15 - 1m 1f 207y
  8. 18:45 - 1m 3f 204y
  9. 19:15 - 1m 1f 207y
  • Meeting(s) televised on ATR Channel
  • Archived race video footage available
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Click to show US racing

Delaware Park (USA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. R1 (18:15) - 6f
  3. R2 (18:45) - 6f
  4. R3 (19:15) - 1m 110y
  5. R4 (19:45) - 1m 70y
  6. R5 (20:15) - 1m 70y
  7. R6 (20:45) - 6f
  8. R7 (21:15) - 1m 70y
  9. R8 (21:45) - 6f
Finger Lakes (USA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. R1 (18:10) - 5f 110y
  3. R2 (18:39) - 6f
  4. R3 (19:08) - 6f
  5. R4 (19:37) - 1m 70y
  6. R5 (20:06) - 6f
  7. R6 (20:35) - 1m 70y
  8. R7 (21:04) - 5f 110y
  9. R8 (21:33) - 6f
  10. R9 (22:02) - 6f
  11. R10 (22:31) - 1m 70y
Fort Erie (USA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. R1 (18:00) - 5f
  3. R2 (18:28) - 6f 110y
  4. R3 (18:56) - 6f
  5. R4 (19:24) - 6f 110y
  6. R5 (19:52) - 5f
  7. R6 (20:21) - 5f 110y
  8. R7 (20:48) - 6f 110y
  9. R8 (21:16) - 1m 70y
Mountaineer (USA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. R1 (00:00) - 5f
  3. R2 (00:25) - 7f 110y
  4. R3 (00:50) - 6f
  5. R4 (01:15) - 6f
  6. R5 (01:40) - 5f
  7. R6 (02:05) - 5f 110y
  8. R7 (02:30) - 2f
  9. R8 (02:55) - 6f
Thistledown (USA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. R1 (17:50) - 5f 110y
  3. R2 (18:20) - 6f
  4. R3 (18:50) - 6f
  5. R4 (19:20) - 6f
  6. R5 (19:50) - 1m
  7. R6 (20:20) - 1m 70y
  8. R7 (20:50) - 1m 110y
  9. R8 (21:20) - 1m
Yonkers Harness (USA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. R1 (00:15) - 1m
  3. R2 (00:35) - 1m
  4. R3 (00:55) - 1m
  5. R4 (01:15) - 1m
  6. R5 (01:35) - 1m
  7. R6 (01:55) - 1m
  8. R7 (02:15) - 1m
  9. R8 (02:35) - 1m
  10. R9 (02:55) - 1m
  11. R10 (03:15) - 1m
  12. R11 (03:35) - 1m
  13. R12 (03:55) - 1m
Zia Park (USA)
  1. ALL - View all races at this meeting
  2. R1 (19:00) - 1f 180y
  3. R2 (19:27) - 3f 210y
  4. R3 (19:54) - 1f 180y
  5. R4 (20:21) - 1f 110y
  6. R5 (20:48) - 1f 30y
  7. R6 (21:15) - 5f 110y
  8. R7 (21:42) - 6f 110y
  9. R8 (22:09) - 6f 110y
  10. R9 (22:36) - 5f 110y
  11. R10 (23:03) - 1m
  12. R11 (23:30) - 5f

Lack of thought in shrieks of dismay over Watson ban
31 May 2021

It’s a close-run thing as to who is most popular to criticise in racing out of the BHA as a whole, handicappers and the stewards. Over the last couple of weeks, it is the latter who the ire from many in the racing industry has been directed towards following the stewards at Nottingham giving a seven-day ban to Jason Watson for his ride on Noisy Night.

Following Watson’s appeal only being reduced from seven days to five days by the judicial panel rather than it being quashed, some of the anger was then directed towards them too. However, despite near unanimous condemnation of these two decisions from within the industry, there are more holes in the anguished cries than the finest Emmental.

If the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes that opened Nottingham’s card on 18th May was the only race that ever took place and there were no rules, would anyone have an issue with Watson’s ride? Almost certainly not as, following his antics in the very early stages of the race, it’s very unlikely that Noisy Night could have finished in the first four and there’s no integrity issue solely with regards to this race.

However, there are other races and there are rules that the stewards have to follow and adopting a ‘common sense approach’ that many have called for to be used in such situations would create far more problems than the current rules.

In a race over six furlongs, after losing how much ground at the start would it be acceptable for a jockey to not make any effort? Maybe after losing five lengths? Six? Seven? Ten? Fifteen? Would that be different if the horse was a newcomer or not? Would it be different if it was quick ground or soft ground? If a horse is twenty lengths behind at the first in a two-mile hurdle, would the common-sense approach allow the jockey to make no effort to improve the horse’s position at any stage in the race? Suddenly there would be uncertainty in a jockey’s mind as to when they would be required to make effort or not and, even with a centralised stewarding panel in place, this would likely result in far greater inconsistency in the application of the rule and in a far greater number of bans and appeals.

And if a common-sense approach was to be applied to one race, then it would have to be applied to all so one couldn’t merely pick and choose the races to apply this to.

Jason Watson
Jason Watson had his initial ban reduced to five days from seven on appeal

On the subject of stewarding inconsistency, there have been suggestions that the rides Watson gave to Noisy Night and Honky Tonk Man at Newbury three days earlier were very similar and, as he didn’t receive a ban for the latter, there’s inconsistency in him receiving a ban for the former. However, there is a big difference in the testimony given by Watson to the stewards following the two rides which seems to have been completely missed or ignored by those suggesting stewarding inconsistency.

At Newbury, he is reported to have stated that ‘he allowed the colt to run through his hands but felt there was little response’ and he can be seen still gently encouraging the horse forward until easing down from two furlongs out. If the stewards at Newbury had banned him after that statement, then Watson’s claim of being victimised might have been justified as they would have been saying that Watson should have asked for more from a newcomer that wasn’t responding. However, they didn’t ban him as that was clearly taken into account.

At Nottingham, he is reported to have stated that ‘at no point in the race did he place the colt under any form of pressure to improve, and again reiterated his position that there was no point in trying to recover ground from such an uncompetitive position.’ Therefore, whether he meant to do so or not, Watson clearly admitted to breaching Rule (F)37.1 which states that a jockey must, and must be seen to, ask their horse for timely, real and substantial efforts to achieve the best possible position.

While Watson commented that the welfare of Noisy Night was a factor in his decision making, unlike at Newbury he didn’t say that there was little response from the horse or say that the horse had nothing left to offer so there’s no welfare-related mitigating factor to justify his decision of making no effort and, therefore, the stewards made the correct decision to hand out a ban.

Following the news of the ban being given by the stewards, there were many saying that they would have been happy with what he did in the circumstances while others questioned exactly what the stewards expected him to do in those circumstances. As luck would have it, there was an example of this the previous day at Carlisle.

Stanley Snugfit, having his second start, got loose before the race. He was drawn widest of the ten runners and once the stalls opened, he shifted very sharply to his left and swerved again when Paul Mulrennan shook him along to get going. He was detached from the main group and ran green through the first half of the race. Despite being a long way behind in last, Mulrennan pushed Stanley Snugfit along after turning into the straight and continued to nudge him along while he was running around and continuing to show greenness and he ended up finishing 19½ lengths behind in seventh.

Given that the horse had got loose beforehand and was clearly still very green, it was a ride from Mulrennan that had the horse’s welfare in mind while making a suitable effort and furthering the horse’s education. As a ban can be given when a jockey uses their whip when out of contention, he wasn’t required to use his whip given his position and duly didn’t and, as a result of riding to the rules, no questions were asked by the stewards.

For those who asserted that the only thing a jockey could do in the circumstances Watson found himself in at an early stage in the Nottingham race is make no effort and that’s what is best for the horse’s welfare, this ride suggests otherwise.

In the appeal, Watson’s solicitor Rory Mac Neice is reported to have said “If you pointlessly put a horse under pressure, it is to pointlessly risk that horse” in defence of Watson’s decision to ask for no effort. If the ride that Mulrennan gave to Stanley Snugfit at Carlisle is deemed to be risking the horse, as Mac Neice’s statement would suggest, then I’m afraid the end of the sport is nigh.

It was also reported that the case of Beaufort’s run at Newbury on 16th December last year was argued to be a precedent in defence of Watson. If that was the case, it was a strange choice given that the judicial panel found no acceptable excuse for Sheehan’s failure to ask for, and be seen to ask for, a timely, real and substantial effort from his horse and while reducing the length of the ban, he still received a seven-day ban.

A more suitable precedent does, incidentally, involve Beaufort and his run at Southwell on 24th February. He was very slowly away and gradually dropped further and further behind his rivals with his rider seeming to make no effort. As in the Watson case at Nottingham, Tom Greatrex stated that ‘at no point in the race did he place the gelding under any form of pressure to improve, and again reiterated his position that there was no point in trying to recover ground from such an uncompetitive position.’

He duly received a seven-day ban, there was barely a whimper made about the stewards’ decision on social media and he didn’t appeal. Maybe he realised that he had clearly admitted to breaching a rule and preferred to quietly learn from his mistake and move on than nonsensically whine. This ban should have also alerted all jockeys to the requirement to still make an effort in such circumstances and that saying you’ve made no effort in the enquiry may not be a wise choice if wishing to avoid a ban.

Following the appeal and Watson’s ban being reduced from seven to five days, PJA Chief Executive, Paul Struthers, stated that “Since August 2020, our success rate has decreased to 50% and we have only won 11% of appeals in full despite the process and rigour behind identifying appealable cases remaining the same. We are left to wonder what has changed and readily believe this is an appeal we’d have rightly won 12 months ago.”

While I don’t necessarily agree with the last part of his statement given the clear admission of a rule breach, I think the most likely reason for the reduction in success of appeals is the quality of raceday stewarding being much improved. While there were often cases in the past where the immediate thought after a stewarding decision was ‘this will be overturned on appeal’, that’s very rarely the case these days and even when it is, that’s due to precedent rather than the rules not being applied correctly as in the Lorcan Williams/Page Fuller case at Newbury. And that can only be a good thing for the sport.

However, that’s not to say that stewards never make a mistake and, although they are improving on this issue, there are still occasionally rides of a questionable nature that are not at least being questioned. As I stated before in an article published around the New Year, having a centralised panel of racereaders to identify such rides would help matters but, at the time, suggesting having this panel was beginning to feel like pissing into the wind given how long it’s been suggested for without any action.

And considering there’s recently been a long spell where plenty of people were working remotely, which would seem to have been an ideal time to trial this, it’s now less of a wind and more like a strong gale.

But just because they sometimes miss what is a subjective matter in a questionable ride, it doesn’t mean that stewards shouldn’t apply the rules correctly on other matters particularly when an enquiry becomes objective as a result of a jockey’s testimony. Some people may not like the rules, others may live in a world where they think everything should be decided based on the rules in their head but the stewards can only apply the rules as they are and in the Jason Watson/Noisy Night case, they did so correctly.

I understand that it’s important for some people to give an opinion on something as quickly as possible, to post on social media to gain as much attention as possible or to ‘tweet for likes’ and that it’s far easier to go along with what everyone else is saying and/or doing than be out there on your own. But the next time a tidal wave of anger is rolling its way towards the stewards, it may be best to take a moment to look at all of the evidence and make a considered judgement rather than just nodding along with opinions that hold no water when delving a little deeper into them.

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