Controversial Racing Protests


There is nothing more controversial in racing then when a protest is upheld – especially in a Group 1 event!

Although the protest in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate on Saturday was dismissed, it is always an intriguing time when the siren goes off!

This is not the only controversial protest in the history of racing and in any pub anywhere in Australia you are sure to find a number of punters that still have their own strong opinions about each of these decisions.

2021 Ladbrokes Cox Plate

Import State Of Rest and three year old Anamoe burst clear at the top of the short straight at The Valley on Saturday when they kicked clear of the rest of the field.

State Of Rest went home to win by the barest of margins but the horse made contact with the Godolphin horse in the concluding stages.

A protest was lodged but after a long debate in the steward’s room, it was thrown out.

2016 Australian Cup – Awesome Rock vs Preferment

Awesome Rock led from start to finish to record an upset win in the Australian Cup, but for the second time in a week we went to the stewards room after the running of a Group 1.

Jockey Hugh Bowman and trainer Chris Waller argued that Prefement’s running line had been taken by a shifting Awesome Rock in the final 400 metres of the race.

Racing Victoria stewards ruled that it if the shifting didn’t happen Preferment would have been the first horse past the post.

The connection’s of Awesome Rock were incredibly gracious after the decision was announced, but most racing experts believe that they were hard done by and the protest should have been dismissed.

2016 CS Hayes Stakes – Palentino vs Tivaci

This is arguably the most controversial protest in recent years.

At the 900 metre mark Mark Zahra on Palentino veered out to avoid clipping heels with a horse in front of him and that led to a check on Tivaci, who was forced wider on the track.

The interference happened in the early stages of the race and Tivaci had every chance to finish ahead of Palentino, but stewards still decided to uphold the protest.

The decision was greeted by howls of outrage by just about everybody – except those punters that backed Tivaci.

To make matters worse, Palentino was protested against by connections of Tarzino two weeks later following his win in the Australia Guineas, but thankfully the decision remained in place.

2001 Cox Plate – Northerly vs Sunline vs Viscount

This is one of the most thrilling Cox Plate finishes, but also one of the most controversial.

In the final 100 metres of the exciting race, Sunline moved out, Northerly moved in and Viscount was pushed onto Sunline by Northerly.

Sunline’s was then knocked by Viscount and Damien Oliver was forced to pull Northerly off them both as they went past the post.

The connections of Viscount protested against both Northerly and Sunline, while Greg Childs on Sunline protested against Damien Oliver on Northerly, but after 15 minutes all three protests were dismissed.

This decision has generally been accepted as the correct one, but John Hawkes still considers this the Cox Plate that got away!

2011 Railway Stakes – He’s Remarkable vs Luckygray

This one really stings me to the core – as young punter I was robbed of a big payout because of this shocking protest.

When you watch the replay of this race, I can assure you that you will see no reason why a protest should have been lodged in the first place.

But somehow the Perth stewards decided to blame Kerrin McEvoy and He’s Remarkable for a series of events outside of their control at the top of the straight and awarded the race on protest to Luckygray.

The fact that a local galloper received the decision over a despised outsider from New Zealand did not go unnoticed by racing fans and a number of punters have never bet in Western Australian again.

2014 Manikato Stakes – Lankan Rupee vs Half The Field

A very similar situation occurred in the 2014 Manikato Stakes, but thankfully this time the correct decision was made.

Craig Newitt was desperate to take up the running on Lankan Rupee in the Manikato and he crossed the entire field in doing so.

The connections of both Angelic Light and Famous Seamus argued that their horses would have finished in front of Lankan Rupee if he did not interfere with their mounts in the early stages of the race.

But both sprinters had their chance to get past Lankan Rupee in the concluding stages and were unable to do so.

2015 Ladbrokes St Leger – Simple Verse vs Bondi Beach

This is a very interesting protest from the United Kingdom and it could be a precedent for what is about to go down in Australia.

Simple Verse crossed the line a head in front of Bondi Beach in the 2015 Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes but after a lengthy stewards’ inquiry the race was awarded to Bondi Beach due to interference caused by Simple Verse on two occasions down the straight.

The connections of Simple Verse took their appeal of the appeal to the British Horseracing Authority and they were awarded the race – 11 days after it was concluded!

1998 Caulfield Cup – Taufan’s Melody vs Jezabeel

Taufan’s Melody was the first international horse to win the Caulfield Cup and it did it in the most controversial way possible.

Taufan’s Melody caused massive interference to Kiwi mares Champagne and Jezabeel in the concluding stages of the race – with both horses extremely lucky to remain on their feet.

The ride of jockey Ray Cochrane was extremely dangerous and he received a month long holiday for his troubles, but stewards opted against taking the race off the English visitor.

Jezabeel and Champagne bounced back from the tough run to finish first and second in the Melbourne Cup, while Taufan’s Melody was gallant in fifth.

1969 Caulfield Cup – Big Philou vs Nausori

Big Philou has been involved in a couple of the most controversial moments in the history of Australian racing.

Nausori was the first horse across the line in the Caulfield Cup, but the race was awarded to Big Philou after Roy Higgins successfully argued that Nausori had caused interference to his mount.

Big Philou was set to start the Melbourne Cup a few weeks later as a dominant favourite, but he was a shock scratching just 37 minutes before the race after it was found that the horse had been nobbled by a former employee of trainer Bart Cummings.

1991 Melbourne Cup – Let’s Elope vs Shiva’s Revenge

Cummings also played a key role in the protest lodged after the running of the 1991 Melbourne Cup.

Let’s Elope crossed the line first to deliver the Cup’s King his ninth Melbourne Cup win, but Shane Dye on Shiva’s Revenge – also trained by Cummings – elected to protest against the star mare.

A confident Cummings was not bothered by the protest and when asked by the press his thoughts about which way the protest would go he quipped that he couldn’t lose.

Let’s Elope hung onto to the race to complete the Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup double.