Terry O’Sullivan has been caught in the middle of racing controversy after an upheld protest in race three at Yarra Valley last week.
After finishing just centimetres short of Free Settler in the 1200m maiden plate at Yarra Valley on Thursday, O’Sullivan’s horse Quietly Angry was handed the win after a successful protest found Free Settler had caused interference during the race.
Stewards deemed the actions of Free Settler jockey Harry Grace of intentionally slowing down at the 700m mark was dangerous and cost Quietly Angry victory.
Quietly Angry jockey Katelyn Mallyon lodged the appeal after claiming Grace suddenly slowing mid-race cost her the win.
Trainer Terry O’Sullivan said he backed up what his jockey was saying about the impact of Grace’s actions.
“Katelyn was pretty adamant of wanting to protest so we went with it,” he said.
“There are very mixed feelings about it – some people think it was the wrong call to protest but the steward’s agreed with us.”
The protest has caused a stir in the racing community, with the decision believed to be one of, if not the only upheld protest to overturn a race result due to a jockey slowing down.
It is incredibly dangerous when jockeys slow up like that – horses can clip heels and fall and it is just not safe for the jockeys or horses.Terry O'Sullivan
O’Sullivan said in his time in racing he has “never seen anything like it”.
“It was very unusual – I have never seen or heard of an appeal like that before,” he said.
“It was the first protest of that type I have seen.”
Acting chief steward Geoff Hausfeld said while it was an unusual situation he believes the right call was made.
“It’s certainly not a situation that we come across frequently but we did feel it has cost Katelyn Mallyon’s horse in excess of the beaten margin,” he said.
Free Settler was eventually given a final placing of second.
It would have been the dream start for the four-year-old mare who was running in its first race.
O’Sullivan said he believes the narrow finishing margin in the race was a big factor in overturning the result in favour of his horse Quietly Angry.
“As one of the stewards told me the margin was so close the change in speed mid-race would have made some sort of impact,” he said.
Dramatically slowed the speed which resulted in interference. Was like any careless riding interference. Cant go from 12's to 17's and expect everyone behind you to do the same that quickly. Caused some carnage.— Jake Noonan (@pasteypiper) December 28, 2017
The protest has drawn into question riding tactics and what will be considered as interference going into the future.
O’Sullivan said he believes this case will prove as a good precedent for future races.
“I think it will set a bit of a precedent which is quite a good thing,” he said.
“It is incredibly dangerous when jockeys slow up like that – horses can clip heels and fall and it is just not safe for the jockeys or horses.
“Our mare was lucky she didn't fall.”
The upheld protest was heartbreaking for Free Settler trainer Noni Shelton, who has not had a winner since June 2016.
The boutique trainer has just two horses in her stables.
O’Sullivan had a very different lead up to the new year, finding form that escaped his stable for a lot of 2017.
The Terry and Karina O’Sullivan stable won five races in just 11 days in the last two weeks of 2017, including Quietly Angry’s victory.
O’Sullivan said he has been pleased with the way all of his horses have been running.
“It is nice to be back among the wins,” he said.
“The horses have been racing really well.
“Even when we haven’t been winning races we have been running very well and being quite competitive.”