A DRAMATIC photo finish controversy saw the winning horse demoted and connections stripped of £9,500 at Sandown – in a move punters are calling ‘the worst decision ever’.
In an absolute thriller to the first race of the final Sunday Series, Rod Millman’s Safari Dream was first past the post.
The 3-1 chance was involved in a right old tussle with 7-1 New Hope Bullet in a five-furlong sprint worth £18,049 to the winner.
Safari Dream got his nose just in front at the line after Kieran O’Neill flew home on the Alice Haynes-trained New Hope Bullet.
The stewards on course announced to all the punters in attendance that Safari Dream had won.
And Racing TV and ITV Racing both confirmed that was the case, with ITV Racing tweeting a video of the finish on their account.
However, that wasn’t the end of it.
Stewards then decided that the runner-up had actually suffered interference at the hands of the winner and became ‘unbalanced’.
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They deemed that was enough to stop New Hope Bullet from winning and therefore revised the placings.
Ross Coakley, who thought he had ridden a valuable nursery winner, was then hit with a careless riding warning to boot.
Haynes said her horse had been ‘intimidated’ by Safari Dream, whose relegation to second saw his connections’ winnings plummet to £8,459.50.
But James Millman, Rod’s son and assistant trainer, slammed the decision.
He said his horse should have kept the race and that the call to reverse placings was ‘clearly a decision not many agree with’.
He told the Racing Post: “We’ve got seven days to decide [on an appeal] but most people think it was the wrong decision.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone say it’s the right decision.
“It was a big prize and obviously the owners were all there enjoying their day and were disappointed when it got reversed.
“If it was a 50-50 then fair enough but when it quite clearly seems to be a decision that not many agree with it’s a bit harder to take.”
Punters were a bit less reserved when slamming the decision on Twitter.
One fumed: “Worst decision I’ve ever seen.”
Another said: “Absolute shocker of a decision.”
While one punter wrote: “Seems really harsh I thought it was a good ride not letting him push through, but I’ve just realized the steward was the judge who thought Joshua beat Usyk.”
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