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Wesley Ward celebrates again as rival team's appeal fails at combative hearing

Campanelle (left) and Dragon Symbol (right) fight out the finish to the Commonwealth Cup
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Trainer Wesley Ward declared "we're going to have to have champagne again" after Campanelle was confirmed as the winner of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot following the dismissal of an appeal against the result by connections of Dragon Symbol.

Dragon Symbol had been first past the post on the day at Ascot, finishing a head in front of the American filly but having drifted a significant distance across the course in the process.

The interference was adjudged by the stewards at Ascot to have cost Campanelle and her jockey Frankie Dettori victory, flipping the result in their favour in a rare example of the result of a Group 1 being changed on the day due to how the race was run.


Commonwealth Cup: full result and race replay


Ward had expressed his belief prior to the stewards reversing the result on the day that Campanelle was the best horse in the race and would have been found in favour of by officials in America, and the trainer was keen to praise his filly and the officiating at Royal Ascot.

"The other camp were up against it going into it with the stewards having made the decision to overturn the race on the day," Ward, who attended the hearing, said on Thursday. "I felt they made the right call then and they made the right call today. My filly was taken the whole way across the track and otherwise she would've won. 

The finish to the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup, the result of which was reversed on the day

"Both sides got to have their say today and both did a great job, but we've got the right result and we're going to have to have champagne again! I've lost the race once and won it back twice now, which is just great."

The packed virtual hearing, during which evidence was heard from Dettori as well as Oisin Murphy and Archie Watson, jockey and trainer of Dragon Symbol, at times proved combative as both sides fought to get the result.

Murphy was accused of being "argumentative" by BHA representative Louis Weston following his cross-examination, with much of the conversation focusing on the bumps between the horses and the distance covered during the interference.


Tension, regret and accusations: how big-race appeals have played out (Members' Club)


Dragon Symbol "showed a real burst" to go past Campanelle inside the last two furlongs, according to Murphy before "idling" and "waiting for her". Murphy added: "I genuinely feel Campanelle had every chance to win that race."

However, Murphy became tetchy when pressed by Weston on whether there had been a third bump between the horses, and who had the greater "momentum" when the interference started.

After Weston stated he understood the difficulty of giving an answer to the question of momentum, Murphy said: "Do you understand? – because you've asked the same thing four times, so I'm not sure you do," which drew a rebuke from disciplinary panel chair Brian Barker QC, who reminded the champion jockey to watch his answers.

Oisin Murphy: rider became tetchy when pressed on whether there had been a third bump

Murphy also elaborated on the disputed discussion between himself and Dettori at Ascot, in which he stated Dettori had said Dragon Symbol was the better horse.

"After the race when Frankie was going into the inquiry he didn't say to me either way that he was going to win the race or not in the inquiry, but he did say to me 'sorry kid, this is horseracing. You're on the best horse, but that's life,'" Murphy said. 

Dettori was unequivocal in his dismissal of the account, telling the panel: "That is absolute nonsense, Mr Murphy must have misheard me. We did have a conversation, but he must have misheard me or made it up, as I never said that."

When it was put to Dettoi by Graeme McPherson QC, for the Dragon Symbol team, that Campanelle had a significant period of 19 strides to get past her rival after the interference ended, the rider said: "The damage was done before the final 19 strides."

He added: "In fairness to my filly she was brave and even with the interference and being taken off a true line she was fighting back. Every time she got bumped she got taken off her stride pattern as she wasn't running straight."

Wesley Ward: "I felt they made the right call then and they made the right call today"

Finding in favour of the raceday stewards, Barker said: "This has been a difficult and important case. We have given careful attention and taken great care in making our decision. Our conclusion is the stewards did come to the right conclusion and the appeal fails."

While the appellant's deposit was returned by the panel, Watson said the decision was not the one he and connections had been wanting.

"While it remains a very disappointing result for Dragon Symbol's connections, I would like to thank the disciplinary panel for their fair consideration of the case at today's hearing," he said. 


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The other camp were up against it going into it with the stewards having made the decision to overturn the race on the day
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