Public spat is disappointing, says Kelly

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2012, 12:00am


Jockey Club chief stipendiary steward Kim Kelly (pictured) has responded to the exchange of words between trainer Tony Millard and champion jockey Douglas Whyte after Sunday's BMW Champions Mile, saying the public spat is 'disappointing'.

The team behind the reigning Horse of the Year appears to have split in print, with Millard accusing Whyte of throwing out the pre-race agreements about how the gelding should be ridden from his inside draw. 'The one thing we didn't want to happen happened,' said Millard, who had been adamant pre-race that Ambitious Dragon should not be racing on the rails.

Whyte hit straight back saying his position had been dictated to by severe interference in the race that saw another jockey, Kevin Shea, suspended.

He said any viewing of the replay would show Ambitious Dragon had then 'benefited from the incident', but failed to produce his best finish when asked in the straight and Millard was simply looking for a scapegoat in his disappointment at defeat.

'From our perspective, it is disappointing that for the second time in six weeks, following one of our major races, we have the trainer of a horse making very public complaints about a jockey's ride without any approach to the stewards' room where the jockey can have the proper opportunity to defend himself,' Kelly said yesterday.

'First there was Tye Angland's ride on Liberator in the Derby and now this with Ambitious Dragon, and the stewards have not received any complaint from the trainer in either case. We only know of their unhhappiness from what we see in the newspapers and I don't think that's the appropriate forum for it to be handled.'

Kelly also said the incident in which Ambitious Dragon and Admiration were checked and Destined For Glory (Angland) almost fell, had given him pause to consider what might have occurred had Hong Kong adopted the plastic running rails, which have become standard in many places.

The plastic rails are designed to give way and allow the horse to break through the inside fence in an incident like Sunday's. The idea is this prevents jockeys being injured.

'Tye Angland was riding the rail for several strides and a plastic one would have just given way and Destined For Glory would have gone inside the track,' Kelly said.

'In other places, going through to the inside of the track usually means landing on a training track, but here we have drains and other things inside the track, especially at Happy Valley, where of course the infield area is used for non-racing purposes.'