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France and Germany face risk of isolation over interference rules

Jamie Stier: argued for definitive action to be taken immediately
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France and Germany risk being isolated from other major racing nations, including Britain and Ireland, over the often contentious in-running interference rules if, as expected, new measures agreed by an international advisory committee are adopted.

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ harmonisation of raceday rules committee, meeting in Hong Kong, has backed the approach used in most jurisdictions, but not France or Germany, whereby a horse who causes interference but does not improve its placing as a result has its finishing position confirmed.

Previously the sub-committee had accepted that two categories of philosophy existed and neither prevailed over the other, but its latest discussions, in which Britain’s representative, the BHA’s Jamie Stier, argued for definitive action to be taken immediately, have come down in favour of the majority view.

The new draft rule goes forward to the IFHA’s technical advisory committee, and if approved will be added to the international agreement on betting and wagering for signatory by individual racing jurisdictions.

The draft rule states: “If, in the opinion of the relevant judicial authority, a horse or its rider causes interference and finishes in front of the horse interfered with but irrespective of the incident(s) the sufferer would not have finished ahead of the horse causing the interference, the judge’s placings will remain unaltered.

“If, in the opinion of the relevant judicial authority, a horse or its rider causes interference and finishes in front of the horse interfered with and if not for the incident(s) the sufferer would have finished ahead of the horse causing the interference, the interferer will be placed immediately behind the sufferer.”

The breakthrough represents a significant success for committee chairman Kim Kelly, chief stipendiary steward of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who said: “The progress our members have made on this topic by agreeing a draft rule that will go to the technical committee is a huge step forward.”

The international agreement is advisory, not binding, but the requirement to sign up, or otherwise, would expose non-participating countries to offering an explanation.

Germany will almost certainly follow France’s lead, but whether the French governing authority France Galop, some of whose senior officials are known to favour the majority approach, is able to convince its independent rule-making body to change its stance remains in doubt.

The harmonisation committee has also agreed a draft rule relating to a horse’s being able to be declared a non-runner if it is denied a fair start from the stalls, or is given an unfair advantage at the same point. The intention is to prevent voiding a race, which the committee believes has become increasingly important as co-mingling of races overseas grows.

The progress our members have made on this topic by agreeing a draft rule that will go to the technical committee is a huge step forward
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