PUNTERS slammed the “terrible” decision of the Aintree stewards to reverse the result of the Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle.
Pied Piper and Knight Salute dead-heated in the big Grade 1 – but the officials handed the race outright to Knight Salute after a stewards’ inquiry.
Brennan and Russell congratulated each other after a dead-heat was called
That despite jockey Paddy Brennan, who benefitted from the decision, saying the result was “fair” during the post-race hearing.
Winning trainer Milton Harris said the decision did not “sit well” with him, while ITV Racing’s Ruby Walsh also questioned the call.
The apparent interference occurred at the final flight of hurdles, when Pied Piper drifted across Knight Salute when around a length clear.
The pair then fought out a cracking finish up the run-in, and after a lengthy wait for the result of the photo-finish the judge called a dead-heat.
But just seconds after the result was announced, the stewards’ klaxon sounded meaning punters had to wait to be paid out.
In the inquiry, which was televised on ITV, Brennan downplayed the interference caused by Pied Piper and Davy Russell.
He said: “I don’t think it affected my finishing position to be honest. I was always going to be happy to stay behind him to the last.
“My momentum wasn’t affected at all. Everything worked perfect for me, I think it was a very fair result and what a horse race.”
However, the stewards decided that the interference was significant enough to change the result and hand first place to 14-1 shot Knight Salute.
Fans reacted with horror at the decision on social media.
One said: “Gobsmacked. Totally the wrong decision.”
Another added: “That stewarding decision at Aintree makes me very uncomfortable.”
While one tweeted: “That is a terrible decision by the judges.”
More to follow…