CONNECTIONS of Pretty Polly Stakes runner-up Stay Alert have lodged an appeal against Saturday’s Group 1 result in which the Hughie Morrison-trained filly suffered interference behind ready winner Via Sistina.

A spokesperson for the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board also confirmed to The Irish Field on Tuesday morning that winning jockey Jamie Spencer has lodged his own appeal against the severity of a six-day careless riding suspension handed out over the incident.

No date has yet been set for either of the appeals.

The incident in question happened as the field approached the final furlong in the Yulong-sponsored €300,000 prize. Via Sistina began to lean right into the path of eventual fourth Rosscarbery, whose rider Billy Lee had to take a major check that effectively brought an end to her challenge.

Second-placed Stay Alert, ridden by Ronan Whelan and owned by Ben and Sir Martyn Arbib, was positioned on Rosscarbery’s right and also got squeezed up. The winning margin was two lengths when all was said and done.

‘Professional foul’

Speaking to The Irish Field on Tuesday morning, Morrison said: “When is a professional foul not dangerous when three horses nearly get knocked over? I believe it’s a professional foul.

“I think the winner was hanging from the moment she was pulled out in the straight and there was time there for Jamie to correct her and take action before the incident. I understand why our owners are disappointed. There was a perfect gap that Stay Alert was running into and it was closed from the outside because a horse was ridden in such a way that they didn’t run straight.

The controversial finish to the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh

“Whether it be in Britain or Ireland, I’m disappointed the authorities don’t take more account of the momentum you lose in incidents like this. When you look at the overhead drone camera angle, we appear to be going just as fast as the winner when the interference happens.

“I feel you cannot say Rosscarbery and Stay Alert weren’t in danger on Saturday. If that was the case, could corrective action have been taken? The jockey said he corrected his filly but I believe that was after the other fillies were in danger.”

In the stewards’ inquiry, Spencer stated that his mount, trained by George Boughey, started to lean right in the straight but that he corrected her. He said Via Sistina leaned on Rosscarbery but felt there was interference coming from the inside also.

Inquiry explanations

One of those runners on the winner’s inner was third-placed Above The Curve, whose rider Ryan Moore stated she was weakening when receiving contact on her quarters and "was turned sideways".

Whelan insisted he was riding the runner-up cold when he got a bump from his outside and tried to regain momentum, while Lee said he was following Above The Curve and felt his mount was keeping on prior to being checked badly.

The stewards were of the opinion that while Via Sistina had caused interference to Rosscarbery, she did not improve her finishing position as a result of the interference so no alteration was made to the placings.

They were, however, of the opinion that Spencer had ridden carelessly and suspended him for six racedays.

When interviewed immediately after the race, Spencer said: "If I had known the way she was going to accelerate, I probably would have ridden her with more confidence."

He added: "She leaned in a bit early in the straight and, obviously, halfway down the straight but she was much the best. I only had to give her one flick and she had her ears pricked in the last furlong."

Group 1 penalties

Morrison has suggested a broader conversation needs to take place around British and Irish racing’s interference rules. As of this week, the IHRB have rolled out stricter penalties for such breaches.

“As we saw in the Irish Derby [when the ill-fated San Anotonio went wrong and hampered others], I think the critical thing is that when a horse is very nearly brought down there is the chance for significant consequences,” said the four-time Group/Grade 1-winning trainer.

“If the authorities are not going to ensure these sorts of things don’t happen, you have to be concerned about where the sport is going. It can be a matter of inches.

“If the penalty was a month for something like we saw on Saturday - as I think could have been the case in Australia - would it still have happened? I'm not sure it would have. We don’t have many Group 1 runners and certainly not many Group 1 seconds so it is frustrating.”

News of the runner-up’s challenge means that for a second year in a row an appeal has been lodged in the Pretty Polly Stakes. Connections of Rosscarbery made submissions last year after she was disqualified from finishing third when her rider weighed in 5lb light due to a technical fault.

That appeal was later dropped, but the IHRB issued an apology to connections and it’s understood a financial settlement was made.