Skeltons successful in appeal against controversial Protektorat demotion | Horse Racing News

Imperial Alcazar (near): was awarded the victory by the stewards on New Year’s Day after finishing a head behind Protektorat (far)

Edward Whitaker (

Dan and Harry Skelton have been successful in their appeal against the demotion of first-past-the-post Protektorat at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day after arguing that Imperial Alcazar did not lose momentum when switched by jockey Paddy Brennan.

On the run-in of the Listed Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the John Hales-owned Protektorat drifted right towards the stands’ side, crossing the path of Imperial Alcazar before the pair then battled out a tight finish with Protektorat winning by a head.

However after a lengthy look by the stewards on the day, they deemed that Harry Skelton’s move cost Imperial Alcazar the race, consequently reversing the original placings. 

In what was at times a testy appeal, the disciplinary panel agreed with the case put forward by the Skeltons’ legal team that Brennan’s mount had not suffered a significant loss of momentum, as had been said on the day, and in rallying to the line was matching similar efforts he had produced on his two previous starts.

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Harry Skelton said: “It’ll be a massive relief for the owners. We feel justice has been done and I felt I was clear in the race on the day, but we’re most pleased for the owners as they’re very good supporters.”

Fergal O’Brien, who trains Imperial Alcazar, said: “Like I said on the day it’s like penalties – you get some, you lose some. We had a very fair hearing. 

“I was a little surprised myself we got it on the day but when I got here and saw the extra views I thought we’d keep it. But we have no complaints.”

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Explaining the panel’s decision, chair Brian Barker QC said: “We were given very careful and anxious decisions to what is clearly a very difficult case. We find the appeal should be allowed. Full reasons will follow.”

Harry Skelton was given a four-day whip ban following the race which he did not appeal.

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