We often hear the term ‘Stewards Enquiry’, but do you wonder what this means?

I’ll attempt to answer the most common questions racing fans have about Stewards’ Enquiries below.

An enquiry is an investigation into a potential breach of the Rules of Racing at the racecourse after the race has ended.

The stewards have the power to disqualify horses and alter the outcome of a race should they believe the rules of racing have been infringed.

When a klaxon is sounded following the end of the race, this indicates that an enquiry has been initiated, and all wagers will be suspended until a decision is made.

The panel consists of three stewards and a Stipendiary Steward, who presents the case to them. They question the relevant jockeys or trainers regarding a potential breach of rules.

As well as asking questions, they can view footage from at least four separate camera angles – think of it as VAR for horseracing.

What are the Stewards looking for?

The Stewards are looking to ensure that horse racing is conducted in a fair and safe manner.

The most common offence is interference, when a jockey or horse obstructs another runner. Interference is deemed as Dangerous, Careless, Accidental and Improper riding.

Categories for riding offences are defined as follows: Dangerous riding involves a rider causing serious interference either intentionally or through gross incompetence, risking the safety of other horses or riders.

Careless riding constitutes failing to take reasonable steps to avoid interference or causing it through inattention or misjudgment.

Improper riding refers to the misuse of the whip, striking other riders or horses, and other misconduct during riding that could be dangerous but doesn’t result in serious interference.

Accidental interference, with no offence committed, occurs when the rider has taken reasonable precautions or the interference is due to unforeseen circumstances.

The penalties for these offences are disqualification and a 10-21 day penalty for dangerous riding; demotion or a caution to a 9-day penalty for careless riding, considering the level of interference caused; and for improper riding, a caution to a 21-day penalty, depending on the gravity of the offence.

If a horse runs a particularly bad race, Stewards might also question why the horse hasn’t performed as expected.

This is often referred to as THE “NON-TRIERS” RULE; if trainers and jockeys are found guilty of not running a horse on its merits or failing to achieve the optimal position in a race, they will be punished.

What authority do the Stewards wield?

If a jockey or horse violates the rules, the stewards can disqualify them, affecting the official results and bettors’ payouts.

Additionally, Stewards may also impose fines and suspensions on jockeys, trainers, and owners of a racehorse.

How long does a Stewards Enquiry take?

An enquiry can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the case’s complexity and the evidence’s availability. Typically, it should last around 15 minutes, after which the panel will make their decision.

Do bookies pay out on Stewards’ Enquiry?

If you’re betting on-course (at the racecourse), and your horse wins but is then disqualified after an enquiry, it’s unlikely the bookmaker will payout.

However, some online bookmakers honour bets if a horse is disqualified.

It’s important to check your bookmaker’s T&C before placing any bet and be aware that the outcome of a Steward’s Enquiry may change the result of the race and affect your winnings.

Who calls for the Enquiry?

The Stewards may call for an Enquiry if they deem there has been a potential breach of the rules.

Alternatively, a jockey, trainer or owner may make an objection to the Stewards against another horse or rider.

Is there an appeals process?

Yes. If a jockey is unhappy with the outcome of the Stewards Enquiry, they can submit an appeal.

Individuals seeking to challenge a decision from the racecourse must provide written reasons within seven days or 48 hours if it concerns suspending a jockey.

Televised Stewards’ Enquiries

Since 2010, the British Horseracing Authority has televised some enquiries and made them available for viewing on its website.

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Jamie Stier, the head of race-day operations, hoped punters would ‘gain a more comprehensive understanding of the processes and considerations undertaken by the stewards in determining the result of a race which is subject to an inquiry.’

The enquiries will be available on both terrestrial and digital channels, but only those races shown on terrestrial television will be open to televised enquiries. Races aired before or after on digital channels will not be broadcast.

The televised enquiries have helped to take the secrecy out of horse racing and allow fans to better understand the process.

Inside the Stewards’ room

Below you can watch a video from a real enquiry from the St Leger. It gives an insight into the racing industry and a glimpse behind the scenes.

The video shows what happens inside the Stewards room, with the panel discussing evidence from both jockeys.

You can also hear them make their decision at the end, which is finally released to the public.

Racing fans can stay updated on the most current rulings from U.K. racecourses through the BHA Stewards’ Enquiries page.

What measures are taken to ensure integrity in horse racing?

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) takes measures to ensure the fairness and integrity of horse racing.

These include enforcing safety regulations, conducting random drug tests, monitoring betting, investigating rules-breaking, and providing education initiatives.

Summary

Stewards’ Enquiries are an important part of horse racing and play a large role in ensuring the fairness of racing. However, we might not always like the outcome!