Imperial Alcazar (near): was awarded the victory by the stewards on New Year’s Day after finishing a head behind Protektorat (far)
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
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.
Skelton’s trip to Disneyland ‘ruined’ as stewards reverse result at Cheltenham
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.”
2020 Vision: Dan Skelton – market forces shouldn’t be frowned upon
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.
This story is being updated and more news will follow shortly. You can also follow the Racing Post on Twitter (@RacingPost) to get the latest alerts