Talented stayer Justamaiz will now head straight to the Group 3 NZ Campus of Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (3200m) for his next start after he was denied a run in the Group 3 City Of Auckland Cup (2400m) through a bizarre chain of events.
The David Greene-trained five-year-old started as one of the favourites for the New Year’s Day middle distance feature but was late scratched after completing a lap of the Ellerslie track after a false start was declared when Pinmedown was left behind the barriers when the start was actioned.
Justamaiz was one of three runners declared a scratching before the race was re-run with Greene philosophical about what happened before and after a start was declared. “It was definitely disappointing to take the horse all the way to Ellerslie and then have to bring him back home without actually running in the race,” Greene said. “There was no way he could run in the restart as he pretty much ran a full lap of the track before he was pulled up.
“I think you have to accept what has happened and move on as there is nothing we can do about it now. “I feel for the connections of all the horses involved as you only get a small window to have these stayers at their peak, so to miss a race like that can be pretty devastating. “At the end of the day our bloke had a gallop and a trip away and we still have a horse to carry on with, so we’re taking a positive outlook with him.”
While he has taken the proceedings in his stride, Greene is hopeful an official inquiry into what transpired will result in measures being taken to ensure the debacle doesn’t happen again. “I guess what I want to see is that all the factors that contributed to what happened are brought out in the inquiry and they look at the system moving forward,” he said. “I know the starter is the one that pushed the button for both the start and then the false start but I’m sure there are other contributing factors that need to be considered.
“I don’t know what happened before he pressed the button but when the false start was signalled it wasn’t very clear at all. “I didn’t hear any siren and I didn’t see the clerk of the course, who is positioned in front of the barrier, making any signals. “Personally, I don’t think it should have been a false start as it affects too many of those who ran in the restart.
“It’s no coincidence that the first three horses pulled up were the first three home in the restart as they did the least work. “I would think if you spoke to some of the other trainers that did have starters they will tell you their chances were definitely affected so maybe the decision should have been to can the race and run it again on another day. “What I would like is the inquiry to result in a blueprint on how to handle the situation being clearly spelt out for future use.”
Greene isn’t concerned about Justamaiz missing a run before the Wellington Cup and won’t be using it as an excuse should the horse not run to his ability in the event. “He’s a pretty clean winded type who doesn’t need a lot of work so he is on target for Trentham,” he said. “He did a fair bit despite not competing at Ellerslie so we’ve just kept to the schedule we had in place for him since then. “We think he will be competitive at the top level for the next couple of seasons so I’m looking for a good performance from him.”
Justamaiz ($7) currently sits on the second line of betting for the Wellington Cup behind TAB Fixed Odds favourite Gorbachev ($6).