Owners stunned after stewards overturn photo verdict

 

A controversial photo finish decision in Yeppoon in July has been overturned following a stewards' inquiry in Rockhampton on Tuesday.

QRIC chief steward Peter Chadwick and deputy Daniel Aurisch went to Rockhampton to inquire into the circumstances of Great Fox being declared the winner of the QTIS 3YO Handicap on July 23. The official winning margin was 0.1 lengths over Victory Toast.

Justin Stanley, the rider of Victory Toast, asked to view the photo finish on the day and challenged stewards when they were satisfied with the decision of the judge, but correct weight was declared.

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Racing Queensland stewards have overturned a controversial photo finish at Yeppoon. Picture: Peter Cronin
Racing Queensland stewards have overturned a controversial photo finish at Yeppoon. Picture: Peter Cronin

It is understood a new photo was produced at Tuesday's hearing that was not present on raceday.

Great Fox's trainer Tim Cook said the owners of his horse have sought legal advice following the ruling.

"The photo they produced at the race meeting was different to what they produced today," Cook said. "I don't know how that can happen.

"How can they bring a new photo six weeks after the event? It's got me beat.

"I always thought the judge's decision was final.

"I feel for the owners. My horse loses $15,000 due to the fault of no one but Queensland racing. I've been in racing all my life and it's the first time I've ever heard of it. I'm just gobsmacked.

"I never thought I would see the day (a photo finish) would be overturned. It will open a massive can of worms because everyone will be challenging photo finishes now."

Cook said on the day of the race, both he and Victory Toast's trainer at the time, Tom Button, agreed a dead-heat would have been a fair result, because the image produced was dark and inconclusive.

Trainer Tim Cook said Great Fox’s owners have sought legal advice after the stewards’ ruling on the photo finish at Yeppoon.
Trainer Tim Cook said Great Fox’s owners have sought legal advice after the stewards’ ruling on the photo finish at Yeppoon.

Button said he accepted the stewards' decision at the time and was surprised to receive a call from stewards to attend the inquiry.

"On the day, the photo I saw was hard to see any sort of margin because of the quality of the photo and they had just blown it up, whereas (Tuesday) there was a different angle to look at it from," he said. "I definitely didn't see the reverse angle on the day, but when we saw it (Tuesday), it was obvious there was a margin for my horse.

"Justin asked to see the photo on the day. When it was knocked back we thought that was the end of it, but it's come into the hands of the stewards."

Victory Toast has since won a Class 2 race at Toowoomba - a race it would have been ineligible for had the verdict gone its way at Yeppoon.

Punters who backed Victory Toast at Yeppoon will have no recourse for compensation, as all winning bets are paid on the announcement of correct weight.