THIS is the dramatic Royal Ascot stalls incident that sparked jockey and punter fury thanks to a controversial decision by stewards.
Video captures the moment jockey Silvestre De Sousa struggles to remove the hood from 7-1 Stunning Beauty in the final race on day two.
Former champion jockey De Sousa can be heard shouting ‘wait, wait, wait’ and a handler yells ‘don’t start’ seconds before the gates fly open in the one mile contest.
As the other horses burst out, Stunning Beauty remains in the stalls, eventually plodding out once De Sousa gets the hood off.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained horse had absolutely no chance and De Sousa quickly pulled the third favourite up.
He dismounted the horse and looked to wave his arms in dejection towards the starter following the chaos.
A livid De Sousa blasted the starter afterwards, saying: “I’m angry. I was telling the starter to wait.
“The hood didn’t come off so I couldn’t race.
“He could have waited two more seconds for me to get it off, but he wouldn’t wait and opened the stalls before I could take the hood off.
“I was shouting, there was a lot of talking going on in there, and they could have waited for me. They just didn’t wait.”
It is believed the starter told a subsequent enquiry into the start that he didn’t hear the calls.
However, the drama took another turn as punters who backed the horse waited to find out whether they would be refunded with the horse deemed a non-runner.
Eventually, the stewards’ report concluded: “The stewards only have the power to declare a horse a non-runner if it has been prevented from starting due to a faulty action of the stalls or the horse is riderless at the time the start was effected.
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“As De Sousa was mounted at the time the start was effected and there was no faulty action of the starting stalls, Stunning Beauty was deemed to have started.”
Punters couldn’t believe their luck as they lost cash on a horse that never had a chance, although some firms did do refunds.
One bettor fumed about the ‘disgraceful’ stewards’ decision, which came after Laura Pearson won on 12-1 Lola Showgirl.
Another said: “That should have been declared a non runner you can hear Silvestre Da Sousa shouting wait in video footage poor form from @BHASteward feel rotten for those that backed him.”
One comment read: “How on earth is he deemed a runner!?”
Another viewer posted: “How do the @BHAStewards come to the decision that Stunning Beauty was a runner? Silvestre De Sousa clearly shouting “Wait! I’m not ready!”.
“He even sat still, resigned to the fact that she couldn’t race. Was he meant to leave the blindfold on and go out the stalls backwards?”
Despite punter anger it appears the stewards interpreted the letter of the law – although reports said the enquiry will rumble on into Thursday.
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