Aidan O'Brien mobbed by press following the decision on WednesdayPICTURE: Dan Abraham
Beach team take Leger reversal on the chin
A MAGNANIMOUS Aidan O'Brien on Wednesday accepted the loss of a Classic at the BHA's headquarters in London as Bondi Beach was demoted back to second after an appeal into the Ladbrokes St Leger resulted in Simple Verse being awarded the race.
While connections of Simple Verse were elated at the panel's verdict to revert to the original result in what was a lengthy and highly-charged appeal, O'Brien took defeat stoically despite Bondi Beach initially being handed victory by the Doncaster stewards.
He said: "Some you win some you lose and that's racing. I think it's great for the connections of the mare. Colm [O'Donoghue] did his best to give the horse a perfect brilliant ride and conducted himself like the professional jockey he is. He has lost a Classic but has won others and will get more."
O'Donoghue was widely praised for his presentation of the controversial finish which was screened live on Channel 4, and he again argued his case fluently, getting into several heated exchanges with Graeme McPherson QC, who led the Simple Verse legal team.
But he, like O'Brien, did not dwell on the result when it was announced the panel had found in favour of Simple Verse and their connections. He said: "I felt on the day the stewards made the right decision. The appeal is over. They have changed the decision again and that's racing."
The appeal focused on the two instances of interference between Bondi Beach and Simple Verse in the home straight, and arguing for Simple Verse, McPherson said: "Mr Atzeni is a head or a neck up all the way up the straight. He won comfortably. He knew Colm O'Donoghue was not catching. He was always holding Bondi Beach. A head in Flat racing terms is a significant distance."
However John Kelsey-Fry QC for Bondi Beach, argued that O'Brien's runner very nearly did recover in getting to within a head of Simple Verse despite receiving two bumps in the race.
"The incident which caused most interference was the first and it is quite clear if no interference had taken place and Simple Verse was ridden according to the rules Bondi Beach would have been first," he said.
However the panel had concluded that although the first incident had caused some loss of momentum but they were "not persuaded" that it improved the filly's finishing position. The second incident had "little or no effect".
John Randall offers historical perspective
Simple Verse is the first British Classic winner to be disqualified and then reinstated, but it famously happened in Ireland in 1981.
In both the 1981 Irish 2,000 Guineas and the 2015 St Leger the racecourse stewards disqualified a home-trained horse in favour of a foreigner, only for the original result to be restored on appeal.
Kings Lake, owned by the Coolmore/Ballydoyle syndicate of the day, finished first in the Irish 2,000, beating the Guy Harwood-trained To-Agori-Mou by a neck, only for the Curragh stewards to relegate him to second for hampering his rival.
The stewards of the Turf Club controversially allowed the appeal lodged by Kings Lake's trainer, Vincent O'Brien; many felt that decision to be a miscarriage of justice.
John Magnier: has been on both sides of a Classic reversalPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
John Magnier, the driving force behind the Kings Lake and Bondi Beach syndicates, has now been both winner and, 34 years later, loser in this rare situation.
St Leger appeal blog: All the news, reaction and comment to a dramatic afternoon of events: http://live.racingpost.com/Event/StLegerAppeal