GOTCHA: Jockeys Peter Graham (outside), aboard She’s Rich, and Matthew Dracos (Cane Ash) are in perfect synch as they cross the line. Photos: Leigh Jensen.
GOTCHA: Jockeys Peter Graham (outside), aboard She’s Rich, and Matthew Dracos (Cane Ash) are in perfect synch as they cross the line. Photos: Leigh Jensen.

Stewards rule ‘no race’ after false start

PUNTERS attending Coffs Harbour Racing Club's Easter Saturday meeting were stunned when stewards declared the second event a 'no race'.

Even the club's elder statesman, Merv Mercer, seemed gobsmacked by what transpired after the Brett Bellamy-trained She's Rich, ridden by Peter Graham, crossed the line a nostril in front of Cane Ash and jockey Matt Dracos.

"I've been here a lot of years and can't remember anything like this before," Merv said.

When runners returned, trainer Bellamy and jockey Graham went into a huddle, and the look on their faces suggested something was up.

What happened seems simple but it's believed the situation was so rare that a call was placed to Racing NSW stewards in Sydney for advice.

Eventual 'winner' She's Rich broke the gates first and the rest of the field emerged like Brown's cows.

But the filly fell back through the field and was lost in the ruck as the pack straightened for home.

In an extraordinary display of horsemanship, Graham extricated his mount and she charged to the lead and had only the runner-up Cane Ash within coo-ee as they reached the line.

It was an incredible gallop with the most disadvantaged runner overcoming the odds to claim victory.

With the inquiry announced, a group of 'colourful racing characters' gathered in the mounting yard to offer theories of what chief steward Tim Saladine and his panel might rule.

Club veterinarian Dr David Johnson tipped a 'no race' would be declared "because the winner jumped first and got an unfair advantage" no matter how hard done-by it was later on in the run.

The good doctor's judgment was spot on and as prominent owner Ross White quipped later: "... another way to do your dough".

The punters did get their money back but the connections of She's Rich missed out sharing the prize money.

Just another slice of unusual history at Coffs Harbour Racing Club.



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