There is no shadow of a doubt that the aftermath of the Villiers Handicap at Randwick last Saturday was what most racing people found more intriguing than the actual race itself. For its part the race resulted in a close finish between Queensland raider Rudy and the Chris Waller trained I’m Imposing with Rudy getting the judge’s nod by a short neck.

The drama that unfolded at the weigh-in was what has seemingly received more media attention than the race itself. In the Sunday papers it was reported that “Tarrant was found guilty of weighing-in light and was fined. In essence Tarrant was within 100g of losing the Villiers”. The article penned by Ray Thomas went on to say “Murrihy (Chief Steward Ray Murrihy) said under the rules of racing, if a rider weighs in 0.5kg or less under weight, the horse is disqualified. You (Tarrant) have come as close as possible to losing this race”.

The official stewards report on the matter read:

“Rudy – on return to scale App. L. Tarrant, rider of the winner, weighed in 400 grams under his declared weight of 54 kilograms. Under the powers of AR143A that rider was allowed by the Clerk of Scales a half a kilogram for the weight of the bridle and correct weight was declared. At a subsequent hearing App Tarrant, who was represented by trainer Mrs H Page, stated that he had taken on fluid to make the 54 kilograms on Rudy before weighing out prior to Race 5. He added the only explanation he could offer was that he used the bathroom twice of (sic) occasions before taking the ride on the gelding. App. Tarrant pleaded guilty to a charge under AR143B of causing Rudy to carry less weight than it should have carried. In assessing penalty, the Stewards took into account his guilty plea, that he is an apprentice jockey and this was his first offence. In aggravation of penalty, the Stewards gave regard to the short neck margin and that the offence occurred on the winner of a Group 2 race. App. Tarrant was fined $1000 and advised of his rights of appeal”.

So that all looks pretty straightforward and cut and dried – and to me it’s been interesting that there hasn’t been so much as a whimper in the media since about whether what has happened to Tarrant is fair and just. In fact what I confess that I find difficult to come to terms with, is why Tarrant, can get fined heavily when he is, by my layman’s terms interpretation of the relevant rules of racing, operating what I’d call “well within the rules”.

Here are the two relevant Australian rules of racing – repeated in full below – that relate to a jockey weighing out and weighing in, with what I consider relevant parts highlighted, so if you have a read of rules AR.118 and AR.143 and interpret them, I’ll come up with some thoughts on them in relation to Luke Tarrant. Please note rule AR.118 states at the start “When calculating a rider’s weight in weighing-out and weighing-in” meaning it applies to both weighing-in and weighing-out, even though it’s marked “Weighing-out”.


AR.118. When calculating a rider’s weight in weighing-out and weighing-in –

(a) no account shall be taken of fractions of a half kilogram, and,

(b) the following items shall be included by the rider in the weight:

(i) any item of clothing worn by the rider, excluding the helmet, goggles, other face

protection and gloves;

(ii) the saddle, lead bag and associated packing, excluding the saddle cloth;

(iii) any other gear attached or to be attached to the saddle.


AR.143. If a horse carries less weight than the weight it should carry –

(a) it shall be disqualified for the race, provided that a rider shall be allowed by the Clerk of the Scales a half kilogram for the weight of his bridle; and

(b) notwithstanding paragraph (a), the rider and/or any person at fault may be penalised.

So from those two rules, you can see that rule AR.118 (a) states (NOTE: there is no such rule of racing as the stewards report mentions of AR.118A as it’s a little a) – it clearly states “no account shall be taken of fractions of a half kilogram” so Murrihy’s “400grams” light is irrelevant by the rules of racing as “no account shall be taken of fractions of a half kilogram”. So therefore Murrihy or any other steward has no option but to work in half kilogram increments – ie 54.0, 53.5, 53.0, 52.5 etcetera. So when Luke Tarrant weighs in “400 grams” light and calls for his bridle, which without it even being officially weighed, gives him “a half kilogram” under rule AR.143 (a) – doesn’t Tarrant now weigh 54.10kgs (53.6kgs plus 0.50kg), so why is he being fined? Even if you allow for the fact that “no account shall be taken of fractions of a half a kilogram” and you take Tarrant’s 53.6kgs from weighting in “400 grams” light back further to the nearest “half kilogram” and assess his weight as 53.5kgs, he can still call for his bridle and Bingo he weighs 54kgs, which is his right weight.

So it is my considered opinion from my interpretation of these two rules of racing, that any jockey riding in any thoroughbred race anywhere around the length and breadth of Australia can weigh in light by half a kilo and simply call for their bridle and they suddenly cannot possibly be disqualified – and nor should they be fined either – as they are weighing in at their declared weight as it’s obviously not doing anything untoward to call for the bridle to magically find “a half kilogram”. In fact that facet is clearly there within the rules of racing to assist the jockey to make his or her weight should they weigh-in light.

I fail to see how it is fair that Luke Tarrant can be fined “$1000” as in effect he has weighed-in overweight (his 53.6 plus “a half kilogram” allowance for the bridle) or to put it another way 54.1 kgs on a horse that was supposed to carry 54kgs as the horse has carried the bridle as a steering mechanism for the whole race.

And I also fail to see how Racing New South Wales Chief Steward Ray Murrihy can make the statement publicly that Luke Tarrant was “within 100 grams” of having Rudy disqualified from his Villiers victory, when after calling for the bridle – he in fact weighs in above the allocated weight that he was asked to carry.

It is my considered opinion that Australian rules of racing AR.118 and AR.143 are ambiguous and are in need of being urgently reviewed and re-worded to have much clearer definitions in cases such as happened last Saturday in the Villiers. I’m no Martin Place barrister, but I reckon I could wear a wig and win an appeal against that “$1000” fine of Tarrant’s simply by being able to read English and interpret what the wording says.

I also wish to advise that I attended the Ipswich Turf Club meeting yesterday for an hour and managed to have a face-to-face discussion with CEO Brett Kitching, which included some meaningful discussion – so that was positive. I may write a story here next week regarding that situation and if I do choose to do that, I’ll publicly advise the name of one person who I have stated in an email to other accredited media that has been what I’ve called in an email to them “totally useless to the cause”.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s a special montage of photos after I went to visit my good friends at the Ipswich track yesterday in 40-degree heat. On www.sydneyracing.com.au there’s a breeding story, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls gives his take on the current Sky Channel/TVN dramas.

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