Great Fox and Victory Toast racing at Yeppoon on July 23.
Great Fox and Victory Toast racing at Yeppoon on July 23.

Great Fox trainer Tim Cook reveals how blindside led to legal action

RACING: It was a cool winter morning in July, a tightening line of horses thundered down Yeppoon’s racecourse, the finish line in sight.

Neck and neck, two horses lurched over the final mark, the chattering of camera lenses and applause for the victors erupting from the sidelines.

It was July 23, and Rockhampton’s Great Fox had been declared winner in a photo finish in the QTIS 3YO Handicap 1200m, with an official winning margin of 0.1 lengths over runner-up Victory Toast.

However, eight weeks later, what was supposed to be a clear-cut decision has kicked off legal action from Great Fox’s owners after Queensland Racing overturned the judge’s decision on Tuesday and ruled Victory Toast the winner.

Another photo, showing a different angle and providing clarity that Victory Toast was the actual winner was brought to the stewards’ attention after Victory Toast’s owner complained about the result.

“(Great Fox’s owners) started legal proceedings (Tuesday) afternoon,” trainer Tim Cook said.

“They gave no indication they were intending to overturn the decision.

“In the racing industry when you’re overturning something they usually give you something to prepare yourself for it, but we went in there on (Tuesday) blindfolded, not knowing what they had come up with.

“There should have been due process. I was gobsmacked.”

On the day of the meet, Victory Toast jockey Justin Stanley asked to view the photo finish and challenged the stewards who accepted the decision of the judge, but correct weight was declared.

“On the day, the footage we have privy to was blurred vision but the angle said that our side had won,” Cook said.

“How can they find that photo now when they couldn’t on the day? They had the exact same networking they had on the day.”

Cook said, officials “gave an indication they were worried about the process on the day... but it had nothing to do with an overturn”.

“Racing Queensland haven’t done the right thing. They should’ve notified the participants that there was an ongoing investigation,” he said.

“The stewards that were involved on the day, and agreed with the judge, weren’t involved in the inquiry, which they should have been.

“I’ve been in the industry all my life and I’ve never known anything like this. There was no indication up to last Friday that anything was going on.”

Punters who backed Victory Toast will have no recourse for compensation, as all winning bets are paid on the announcement of correct weight and cannot be changed.

Victory Toast also went on to win a Class 2 race at Toowoomba - a race it would have been ineligible for if it had been ruled the July 23 winner.

“The whole racing community loses out on this,” Cook said.

“This will open up a massive can of worms, I believe.

“We’ve always been told the judge’s decision is final but now every decision made on race day will be subject to review.”

A representative for Queensland Racing Integrity Commission said after consideration tendered at the inquiry and further reviewing of the photo finish image, stewards “were satisfied that on the evidence available to them, that an error had occurred in determining the result of the race”.

“The Stewards were comfortably satisfied that a nose margin existed in favour of Victory Toast winning the race.”

Racing Queensland has been contacted for comment.

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