THERE was a controversial end to the big sprint race at Musselburgh yesterday when Hamish McGonagall ridden by David Allan was awarded the race in the stewards’ room.
The Musselburgh regular was sent off the 7-2 co-favourite for the Betfred-sponsored Whistlejacket Conditions Stakes over five furlongs, with Hayley Turner aboard Bear Behind, the other co-favourite.
Bear Behind, who has Manchester United and England striker Michael Owen among his owners, was always at the front but looked very likely to be caught by Hamish McGonagall.
Inside the final furlong, Bear Behind clearly deviated off a straight line and went across the track, taking Allan’s mount right out of his ground, though Turner always had her whip in the correct hand.
With the winning distance being a short head, an inquiry always seemed likely and the stewards decided that the interference had cost Hamish McGonagall the race. Those who had backed the two in a forecast were delighted when the stewards simply reversed the placings.
Excel Bolt finished almost three lengths behind in third, with the veteran Borderlescott in fifth. David Allan said: “She took me across the track and I thought I’d get the race.”
A spokesman for the owners said: “We’re delighted with that – we felt he’d get the race. It’s a great start to the year for him as he was giving weight away all around.
“It’s good for Tim [Easterby, trainer] as it’s got him off the cold list.”
The big event of the day, the £50,000 Betfred Royal Mile Handicap, provided a thrilling finish between 12-1 shot Chapter Seven and Evervescent, an 8-1 chance.
Richard Fahey-trained Chapter Seven prevailed by a neck under Frederick Tylicki, bringing up a quickfire double for the pair after the success of Justonefortheroad, also a 12-1 chance, in the preceding Betfred Goals Galore handicap.
Mark Johnston and all-weather champion jockey Joe Fanning also had a double with 5-1 chance Storm Moon in the opening Betfred When Both Teams Score EBF Maiden Stakes and the much fancied Key Gold, 1-2 winner of the Betfred Double Delight Maiden Stakes.
The big Easter meeting at Musselburgh continues today with the Betfred Musselburgh Gold Cup as highlight of the course’s racing, though this being Family Day at the East Lothian track, most of the younger spectators will no doubt be more concerned with the off-track fortunes of Peppa Pig.
For those following the horses, Shubaat from Roger Varian’s yard is strongly fancied to win the Cup.