Ian Williams has been awarded the race at Doncaster last month in which his Banditry was narrowly beaten after suffering interference from the winner, a result that was controversially allowed to stand by the stewards on the day. The Worcestershire trainer represented himself at Thursday’s appeal hearing and persuaded a three-man panel to reject an argument by the sport’s ruling body that Banditry would not have won in any case.
Lynn Williams, representing the regulator, had said the BHA considered “that the interference here was only slight. We do not consider it would have changed the outcome if the sufferer had had an uninterrupted passage”.
He quoted Ryan Moore, who won the race on Laurence, as telling the stewards he felt he had been on “by far the best horse” and that Laurence’s superiority was understated because he had idled after hitting the front.
“If the horse was good enough, it had time to pick up earlier,” Lynn Williams continued. “It had every opportunity to do so and we don’t consider the interference stopped the horse from winning the race.”
Moore, giving evidence by telephone from Japan, said he had expected to win “pretty easily” until his horse “ducked” to his right, causing the interference. “He knew where the stables were,” the jockey explained. “It happens quite a bit at Doncaster. I thought he did well to get going again and hold on.”
William Buick, Banditry’s rider, also joined in the hearing by telephone, from Norway, to describe the interference as “severe”. “It completely broke my momentum at a very, very crucial part of the race,” he said. “It changed the result. A stride after the line, I’m in front by a head.”
Ian Williams exonerated Moore, saying there was nothing the jockey could have done to anticipate Laurence’s sudden shift to his right, but argued the effect was to prevent his horse from making ground at a crucial stage. He pointed out that, while Moore was able to use his whip nine times, Buick only had time to use his once after finding a clear run and getting Banditry balanced and extending once more.
Ian Williams said: “I thought it was a very fair hearing and I think the committee had a good bit longer to consider the verdict than the stewards on the day. These things are always tough but it’s refreshing to know that, if you feel something hasn’t been correctly deal with, there is an appeal procedure and, on this occasion, I feel it’s worked very well.”
Williams noted during the hearing he was “a little concerned” that the stewards had changed the reason for their verdict after publishing it on the day. Having initially argued that Laurence “appeared to always be holding Banditry”, which did not fit very well with footage of the runner-up closing dramatically all the way to the line, the stewards deleted that wording and chose instead to describe the interference as “minimal”.
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The following is from the BHA press release
1. On 10 November 2016, the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) heard an appeal against the decision by the Doncaster Stewards, following an inquiry on 22 October 2016, to leave unaltered the placings of the first two horses home in the Sunbets.co.uk Download the App Handicap Stakes. LAURENCE, ridden by Ryan Moore, beat BANDITRY (IRE), ridden by William Buick, by a head. The Stewards held an inquiry in which they found that LAURENCE had ducked sharply right to carry BANDITRY (IRE) off its intended line and the interference had not improved LAURENCE’s placing. They ordered the placings to remain unaltered as the interference caused by LAURENCE was minimal and did not affect the result.
2. Prior to the enquiry, both parties had agreed that they had no objection to the Panel members sitting. Mr Ian Williams presented his appeal and Lyn Williams represented the BHA. Evidence was given by Mr Moore and Mr Buick via telephone as both were overseas.
3. At the appeal, there was no dispute about the bare facts of what happened in the race. Two furlongs out, LAURENCE began to deliver a challenge on the outside, and was about three lengths adrift of the then leader and a number of other horses on his inside. Mr Buick on BANDITRY (IRE) was tracking Mr Moore on LAURENCE at this point, and positioned directly behind him, a little more than 1½ lengths adrift of LAURENCE.
4. By the furlong marker, BANDITRY (IRE) was still about 1½ lengths adrift of LAURENCE, who had moved into a share of the lead. Both horses were under strong pressure from their riders. But BANDITRY (IRE) then began to make ground on LAURENCE, and in the next 50 yards the distance between them was just under one length. At this stage, Mr Moore’s horse LAURENCE ducked sharply right and carried BANDITRY (IRE) off his line. (Mr Moore attributed this manoeuvre to his horse being distracted by the route to the stables, and it was accepted on all sides that this was accidental interference). The manoeuvre, though accidental, was pronounced and LAURENCE moved about four horses width to his right. Mr Buick had to take back and check his mount.
5. The immediate effect on BANDITRY (IRE) was a loss of momentum and a loss of position relative to LAURENCE. From having been just under a length down on LAURENCE, BANDITRY (IRE) found himself about 1¼ lengths adrift. Furthermore, the recordings of the race showed to the Panel that Buick on BANDITRY (IRE) was checked and had to take a pull for two strides, and then took some further four or five strides to rebalance and deliver a renewed challenge. These were, in the Panel’s view, consequences of the accidental interference.
6. For the remainder of the race to the finishing post, BANDITRY (IRE) made up ground on LAURENCE and was beaten by a diminishing head – i.e. about 12 inches. Just 10 yards past the post, BANDITRY (IRE) was well past LAURENCE.
7. When evaluating the effect of the interference on BANDITRY (IRE), the Panel was persuaded that it cost BANDITRY (IRE) the race. The incident not only cost BANDITRY (IRE) a quarter of length at a crucial juncture of the race but also momentum and balance. And the eventual margin of defeat was some 12 inches, with BANDITRY (IRE) finishing notably the stronger.
8. The Panel therefore upheld the appeal and ordered the placings to be reversed, placing BANDITRY (IRE) first and LAURENCE second.
9. The deposit posted by Mr Williams was of course returned to him in light of his success.