Stewards' decision muddies the picture
Since protests became flavour of the month, the stewards have at last provided us with some grist for the mill. Saturday's protest by third-placed Lions' Fortune against the winner, Crown Witness, has left many dazed and confused coming so soon after, and bringing a different result to, the other inflammatory minor objection at Happy Valley, involving Master Dreamer and Industrial Legend.
We don't agree with the stewards' view that Lions' Fortune would not have picked up Crown Witness: in the space of 150 metres he had taken three lengths off the two leaders, Crown Witness and Young Turbo, both tiring after laying down their cards early in the straight. The next six finishers all took good ground off them in the final 200m because of that early effort at the 400m. As they continued to stagger in the last 50 metres (pictured), Lions' Fortune, whose maximum effort was only just peaking, would have got them with clear running. But the case, paradoxically, swung on just how quickly Lions' Fortune was eroding the margin.
The only argument for throwing out the objection was that, although there was a clear gap big enough for Lions' Fortune against the inside rail, at the time Crown Witness started to roll in and narrow it, the third placegetter was still far enough behind that opening for it to be deemed not his running. He was committed to and charging into a gap that had all but disappeared by the time his head got there.
At Happy Valley, Industrial Legend clearly had his head in the gap when it closed. So the question then is what constitutes your fair running? And how does that impact on the jockeys, who are constantly referred to a supposed two-lengths' clear advisory when it comes to careless riding?