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How does a horse racing protest work?

We help you learn how a horse racing protest works
Stewards room
Jamie Spencer (L) and Frankie Dettori (C) watch a replay in the weighing room before being called into a stewards enquiry at Royal Ascot (Getty Images)

How does a horse racing protest work?

Sometimes we may see a delay to correct weight being paid out and this can be because of a protest being held in the stewards room.

First of all, what is a protest?

A protest is a when a horse has caused interference to another horse, with the impacted horse finishing marginally behind the offender.

We saw an example of this in the 2019 Melbourne Cup when Master Of Reality finished second across the line, but caused interference to Il Paradiso who passed in fourth. 

The interference was deemed to have directly impacted Il Paradiso's ability to finish inside the placings which saw the stewards uphold their decision and demote Master Of Reality to fourth.

So now you might ask how a decision is made on whether a protest is upheld or dismissed?

A jockey will have a look at the replay after the race and decide from here whether a protest should be lodged. Once the protest has been lodged, both parties will then meet with the stewards and each have a case for why their horse should be promoted or keep their position.

Both jockeys will have their input first before the two trainers are then allowed to add extra comments.

Both parties will then leave the room before stewards make a decision based on both input and the vision that they can see. Whatever party is more convincing with their arguments is more likely to be winning the protest.

Often, the longer a protest is undecided means the more likely it is to be upheld.

If the protest has been upheld, the offending horse will then be relegated back to the position that the effected horse finished.

If the protest is dismissed, all final placings will stand and correct weight will be given.

Luckily, from a punting perspective, most online bookmakers have a protest payout where if your horse is beaten by protest, you will still be paid out as a winner.

Horse Racing Protest FAQ

Who can lodge a protest?

Connections of a horse can lodge a protest in Australia.
This includes trainers, jockeys and owners.

What is an upheld protest?

An upheld protest is when the stewards decide that the protest was successful. This can mean the winner is overturned or that the placings are rearranged behind the first past the post.

What is a dismissed protest?

A dismissed protest means the race result remains unchanged. The winner and all the placings stay as they were when the horses passed the post.

When does a protest need to be lodged?

A protest is typically lodged directly after the race in question, but certain protests can be lodged up to 30 days after the event.

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