Hats off to Japan for fixing its rules

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2011, 12:00am


This column echoes the thoughts of chief steward Kim Kelly in cheering on the Japanese for their stand on changing the relegation rules. The patent unfairness of Green Birdie's disqualification on Sunday was unavoidable as the stewards' hands are tied by the current rules.

But here's to them for having the strength of character to change from January to a system that requires more spine and more judgment from stewards, and will no doubt invite criticism at times, but is essentially a better, fairer system.

Japanese fans and participants alike have grown up with an environment that leaves no discretion, so to switch to one in which relegation decisions are made by professional opinion and not by rote takes some cojones.

At an Asian Racing Conference in Dubai more than five years ago, this column asked France's world racing chief Louis Romanet, when he agreed that rules needed harmonisation, which country would be brave enough to put up its hand and be the first to say 'our rules are wrong'. At that time, Romanet quite heroically volunteered in an open session that perhaps it was the French relegation rules that needed fixing, and that he would take that opinion home.

Alas, in the meantime, we have had indelible stains on the reputation of French racing like Dylan Thomas' win in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Stacelita's Prix Vermeille and nothing has changed. It turns out the Japanese were the heroes.