Give non-runners credit they deserve - in the form guide
Ah, welcome home old mate. There's a touch of nostalgia involved in this item as it was a hobby horse long ago in a galaxy far far away called Australia, where we lobbied for a long time to have non-runners' ...well, runs ... included in the form guide.
Frankly can't recall if that was finally rectified but this is a new place and fresh ground and here we go again and perhaps in Hong Kong, where the club tries to be ahead of the curve, it will prove simpler.
While we are aware of the term non-runner being an indication that a horse is excluded from betting, prize money and other result-based considerations, there's still no reason why that athletic performance shouldn't appear in full in form guides.
Non-runners after the event are pretty rare. It happens if a horse was denied a fair start, the jockey weighs in light or the horse returns a positive.
If either of the latter occurs, the details of the performance still appear in the form guide with notification of disqualification, but when the horse isn't disqualified but merely withdrawn after the fact, the run disappears. There is a scratching notation on the horse's record and weights, times, margins etc disappear. It's a wonder they aren't airbrushed out of the photos. All as though the horse never actually ran - but it did.
It came up last Wednesday when Gene Power was declared a non-runner due to an incident in which the starter accidentally let the field go, Tim Clark wasn't ready and Gene Power came out a long last. Fair enough, but what the form guide won't indicate next time is that it was possibly Gene Power's best performance this season - working off a low base, true.
He was finishing off strongly to make up 31/2 lengths in the straight and be beaten only a tick over four lengths in sixth across the line behind Imperial Rome, who incidentally was very slowly away himself.
Now had the finish margins of that race been, let's say, a nose by a nose and a nose to Gene Power in fourth place, he still is a non-runner with a terrific run which will disappear from the form. (If he manages to scramble into a place, however, he cannot be declared a non-runner under the rules.) Also, from the angle of fitness, when analysing his chances next time, Gene Power had a serious race on May 30 but if he doesn't race for another month now, it will appear in the guide that he hasn't raced for two months. Last season, the same happened with Pretty One.
It's simple stuff, an infrequent occurrence in this environment of few races, and there's no good reason why that run doesn't stay in the form as a run but with a notation on his finish position of 'non-runner'.