Confirmed victory eases nerves
The "not again" look on Emma-Lee Browne's face following Roll Out The Carpet's victory in the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton on Saturday painted a grim picture.
Just minutes earlier, the Cambridge horsewoman had looked like she was ready to faint when judge Rob Fielder announced the stunning filly she trains in partnership with her father, Jeff McVean, as the winner by a nose over tough filly Waterford.
But when the inquiry siren was sounded, five minutes into the presentation of the Guineas, Browne looked like she wanted to sit down, scream and cry. She had every right because watching Group I races fall from her grasp isn't new territory.
Roll Out The Carpet was relegated from first in the Group I Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie after she veered out in the run to the line - a situation Browne described as one of the toughest she has been in.
On Saturday, it was happening all over again. Leith Innes, the jockey of Waterford, initiated the inquiry - stating that he felt that movement short of the winning post from Roll Out The Carpet had cost him the race.
Innes put forward a compelling case in the stewards' room, but he was countered perfectly by Roll Out The Carpet's jockey Mark Du Plessis.
"Yes, my horse has run out a little but Leith's horse has come in more," Du Plessis said during the inquiry.
"If anyone is to blame, it's the other horse. Not mine."
Making the situation more awkward was that Waterford's owner Wayne Pike, is Browne's uncle and for that reason, took no part in the inquiry.
He did, however, approach Browne following the announcement that Roll Out The Carpet was going to keep the race , saying "tell your mother [Pike's sister] it wasn't me that protested".
"It's not a pleasant situation to be in," he said.
"If it had been anyone else I would have fought it tooth and nail."
The judicial control authority took barely two minutes to make their decision and agreed with Du Plessis that there had been movement from both horses, describing the contact as more of a "brush than a bump" before declaring the placings as they passed the post.
Only then could owners John Cameron, who represented the connections in the inquiry, his wife Jackie, Matthew and Liz Oram, William Fan and Tung Moon Fair, finally celebrate.
The Holy Roman Emperor filly was deserving of her win after looking destined to run second before rallying back late under the urgings of Du Plessis to claim victory.
"She jumped out of the gates and fell flat on her face, but she picked herself up straight away," Du Plessis said. "Every time I've ridden her she's learned how to race and relaxed every time and she gave a really good kick."
Waterford was equally as impressive in running second while Fix boxed on well late to finish third.
Roll Out The Carpet has now won three of her nine career starts and placed on four occasions for stake earnings of more than $321,000.