Dead heat declared in handicap
Diamond to Pegasus dead-heated with Shamus in the Camarena Handicap. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Protests are becoming synonymous with Black Opal Stakes Day - it's the way Canberra's biggest day of racing started and it continued at Thoroughbred Park on Super Sunday. The judges declared the Camarena Handicap (1000 metres) a dead heat between $3.40 favourite Shamus and Diamond To Pegasus, but sources close to the latter's camp were convinced they should have won.
Blurry lines on the photo were the heart of the contention, apparently making the nose of Shamus seem bigger than it was and closing the gap on Diamond To Pegasus. Initially it took four minutes for the judges to call a dead heat, but it wasn't until the Canberra Guineas had almost started that they reaffirmed their initial decision. It meant two Queanbeyan boys split the prize.
Queanbeyan trainer Tony Sergi was confident $31 longshot Diamond To Pegasus had saluted, but the longer the judges took to make the call, he knew it was going to be a split decision.
''Originally I thought I'd won it, but the longer it took the more I thought it'd be a dead heat,'' he said. ''The horse has been working fantastic. I was really confident.
''The problem was the barrier had me back-pedalling a little bit because we'd rode like that [from behind] with him before - we'd always led with him - but I said to [jockey] Nathan [Berry] the only way we were going to win it was to hope there's pace and try and sit behind them, and see how we go from that.''
Interestingly, Sergi and Joe Pride, the trainer of Shamus, had discussed the race and how the track was playing before the race. Not long after, they were shaking hands as co-winners.
Pride, based at Warwick Farm, was born in Queanbeyan before his family moved away when he was young. He had no idea how Shamus had fared, perplexed by the positioning of the finishing post - lost among the backdrop of a miniature Parliament House.
''I don't know where your post is, I think it's the worst winning post in Australia,'' Pride told The Canberra Times.
''If you put something up of Parliament House, you wouldn't expect it to be popular, would you?
''But I didn't know where the post was, so I had absolutely no idea [whether I'd won or not].''
It was Pride's first crack at the Camarena and a good way to start.