It is a bit like asking the House of Lords to go take voluntary redundancy but the time has come for Jockey Club members to veto their own right to sit on the race-meeting stewards panel. This has been thrown into sharp relief by a number of potentially embarrassing situations already this season - and it's only 10 meetings old. It's about principles rather than personalities. It's about the old adage of justice not just being done but being seen to be done. This should be a cornerstone to the operation of the race-meeting panel, which is now so expertly advised by chief stipe John Schreck, who has been a superb appointment by the Jockey Club. Instead, due to the presence of two amateur members on the seven-strong panel, there is room for all sorts of perceived vested interests. For instance, earlier in the season Ronald Carstairs remained on the panel while a race was run in which a horse he owned, Braveheart, actually competed. Then there was the Basil Marcus careless riding inquiry where Jockey Club steward Paul Cheng was the chairman yet he jointly owns Oakland Hills, who is trained by Marcus' retaining trainer David Hayes. Presumably Cheng was thus chairing an inquiry into the rider he retains! It must be made clear, and in no uncertain terms, that no slur is intended at all on the character of these men. Carstairs is a tremendous racing enthusiast whose presence was probably no more than an unfortunate oversight as subsequently another owner, Ian Boyce, temporarily relinquished his position on the panel when his horse, Kashmac, competed and steward Ronald Arculli stood down during the second race on Saturday due to a syndicate involvement. What's more, in the Marcus case a penalty was rightly imposed. Marcus received three meetings due to a clear-cut case of careless riding. But the question is, do the Jockey Club and its members want to be exposed to this kind of situation? Because the day could come, indeed it almost certainly will come, where some think there was a clear-cut breach of the rules but no penalty imposed. It is in the Club's own interest, and in the wider interest of justice and fairness, to remove amateur stewards from the panel when they might have a vested interest. By the same token, to scrupulously present an unbiased panel would lead to members standing down left, right and centre. This is because relatively few members are available to perform raceday stewarding and those who are have a wide range of contacts, through ownership, with many trainers and jockeys. Much better they weren't on the panel at all. They are not there in Australia, which leads the way in the policing of racing. It is going to call for an act of utter selflessness from the Jockey Club stewards and members to give up their privileges of filling two spots on the race-meeting stewards panel. But it is a very necessary act if racing is going to maintain its image. The counter argument, that the amateurs are on the panel to ensure there is no bias, holds no water. The arguments goes something like this - a salaried stipe, on the panel for a number of years, may, for all sorts of human reasons, develop a skewed perception of, or even a grudge against, particular jockeys or trainers. A constant revolving of amateurs on the panel provides a strong safe guard against this as these amateurs are good, fair men and true. Where this argument has no basis is that the amateurs do have their say - and a very big one. A licensed person can appeal, if he or she feels wronged by the finding of the original professional inquiry. This appeal is heard by the stewards of the Jockey Club - ie amateurs. Any bias would soon become apparent to these stewards, many of whom are trained in law. Indeed, the very composition of the Appeals Panel provides another compelling reason why there shouldn't be amateurs on the original panel as it is in the interests of justice that peers (ie fellow Club members or even fellow members of the Board of Stewards) of the Appeals Panel have not been party to the very decision which is being appealed against. Again, this has been accepted in Australia where they don't even allow stewards on the appeals panel. Appeals in Australia are heard by a body separate to the committees that administer the sport and chaired by independent figures such as recently retired, august barristers. But up here let's not run before we can walk.