Racing Australia reluctant to tinker with weigh-in rule despite punters’ protests

Hot water: Jockey Jye McNeil was fined after weighing in light on a horse at Sandown. Photo: Pat ScalaRacing Australia has stressed it has no plans to revisit the controversial rule where punters are stripped of their wagers on a horse when a jockey weighs in light, even after the Jye McNeil drama earlier this month.

Despite howls of protest in the days after the race in question – where McNeil was fined $2000 and his mount Tigidig Tigidig disqualified after being first past the post in a Sandown race – Racing Australia boss Peter McGauran confirmed tinkering with the law is not on the board’s immediate agenda.

Punters who backed Tigidig Tigidig had no chance of recouping their money and were left fuming when stewards were confronted with no other option but to disqualify the horse.

But Racing Australia remains reluctant to amend the rule given the rarity of the scenario and precedent it would set for other horses similarly affected.

Among their concerns include if a jockey weighs in light on a beaten horse which is subsequently declared as a non-runner, other punters are likely to be out of pocket.

Those who had backed a horse which, on merit, finished ahead of a mount which didn’t carry its allotted weight would be forced to cop deductions from their dividend.

And stewards are also privately concerned jockeys who are beaten in a race could easily dispel lead on returning to scale in order to deliberately weigh in light and abuse any rule which deems the horse a non-runner, therefore refunding losing bets.

One option floated would be to deem only the first horse past the post as a non-runner if its jockey weighs in light, therefore protecting “winning” bets.

But McGauran said the Racing Australia board were worried about the precedent it would set for other runners and had not flagged the rule for discussion at its next meeting.

“For winners to be declared non-runners … how long will it be before jockeys who weigh in light on placegetters or other runners mean calls start for them to also be declared non-runners? That’s one of several scenarios that has been presented to us where other punters lose out because of deductions,” McGauran said.

“If [the states] were to pursue a rule change we would have to consider it, but there is no immediate body of support.”

Racing Victoria said on Monday it is likely to wait until chief steward Terry Bailey returns from annual leave next month before deciding on whether to table another proposal in regards to the rule.

But acting chief steward Robert Cram indicated in the wake of the McNeil incident it would be under strong consideration.

McGauran said the introduction of electronic scales in the last two years had limited the number of discrepancies with riders not returning at their correct weight after a race.

“The electronic scales seem to have eliminated the occurrence [of further weighing in light scenarios] and there doesn’t seem an appetite to change [the rule],” McGauran said. “When the board last considered [the rule] it was decided to give the electronic scales the chance to work.

“Now if the jockey weighs in light or heavy the onus is on the jockey to provide the reasons. The board expects the rider to take more responsibility for his or her weight upon returning to scale.”

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