Stewards Enquiry Explained: How Reviews Affect Bets

In horse racing, a stewards enquiry is the formal mechanism through which officials review a race. Following some sort of disagreement or anomaly, the Stipendiary Steward will present a case to a panel of judges. It’s through this process that any disputes or uncertainties are ruled on. The review determines whether any rules have been broken and the outcome of the race is affected. Stewards enquiry results can overturn the outcome of the race if they find sufficient evidence.

What is a stewards enquiry?

In general, a horse racing stewards enquiry will take place on race days after the runners have finished. The steward can call an inquiry at his discretion. For example, if he spots any issues before or during a race, they have the power to call a review. 

It’s also possible for a jockey, trainer, owner, or race official to call for a stewards enquiry. The Stipendiary Steward will assess these individual complaints before deciding whether or not to hold a formal review. If the matter is taken before the panel, a review is carried out and the results of a race can be overturned.

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What Reasons Are there for a Stewards Enquiry?

Stewards inquiries determine whether a horse/s have interfered with others during the race. The aim is to establish whether racing rules have been broken. This mechanism is necessary because interferences can affect the outcome of a race. Stewards inquiry horse racing reviews can be used to rule on other issues, including:

If the horse has been run to its full capabilities. The panel can assess whether or not the jockey deliberately held back the horse to let a stablemate win. This is not only illegal, but it can also harm the betting industry as it’s akin to match-fixing.

At the request of a race participant or trainer/owner. Anyone involved in a race has the right to call for a stewards inquiry. This happens if they believe the officials did not spot a potential infraction.

In situations where results state that horses haven't run to their full potential, further investigation can take place. This would review an entire stable and whether the owners/trainers are part of a network of race-fixing. Instances, where the horse hasn’t run to its full potential, can result in bans and fines for all involved.

What Happens During a Stewards Enquiry?

The Stipendiary Steward collects all the available information and collates it for the panel, ready for a formal review. A panel of judges will then assess the evidence in front of them. During the enquiry, the panel can question the steward about any aspect of the case.

The panel also has the power to question jockeys and trainers linked to the incident. Finally, the panel can ask for video footage of the races from multiple camera angles. After deliberation, the stewards' enquiry results are made public both at the racecourse and online in a public record.

In British horse racing, it’s not often for an interference to change the result of a race. This is because it’s hard to determine whether the act was intentional or a natural part of the race. Horse racing is a competitive sport and there will always be a certain amount of jostling for position.

How does a Stewards Enquiry affect my bets?

Bookmakers have their own rules about how they handle bets. Many pay “first past the post”. Regardless of an overturn after a race, bookies pay the bets on the winning horse. Some adhere to the results of an enquiry: if you backed a winner that was subsequently demoted, your bet would be a loser.

Other bookmakers will adhere to the results of an enquiry but pay out twice. One time for bets on the original winner and one time for bets on the newly declared winner. This can be rare as the double payouts are often a gesture of goodwill. When you use the top online bookmakers, such as Betfair and Bet365 the first past the post rule applies. Therefore, stewards enquiry betting conditions shouldn’t really affect your potential payouts.

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Q: What is a steward?

In horse racing, the steward is an impartial official. In some respects, the steward is like the umpire in tennis or referee in football. They’re there to ensure fair play. What’s more, they’re the intermediary between race participants and the review panel.

Q: Can a horse be disqualified after a race has finished?

Yes. The whole reason for holding a stewards inquiry is to determine whether rules have been broken. If the panel decided that an infraction has occurred, it has the power to disqualify one or more runners, thus altering the result of the race.

Q: Has a steward enquiry every affected the outcome of a major race?

Yes. One of the most famous stewards enquiry results saw the 2015 St. Ledger descend into chaos. The race was originally won by Simple Verse. However, following a stewards enquiry on the day, it was deemed that Bondi Beach was significantly inconvenienced. As a consequence, Simple Verse was disqualified and Bondi Beach won. However, those with an interest in Simple Verse appealed the decision and, following further review, the stewards enquiry results were overturned and the original finishing positions restored.

Q: Do I receive a full odds payout following a stewards enquiry?

If the bookmaker agrees to pay, the answer is yes. In other words, if the bookmaker uses the first past the post rule, the results of a horse racing stewards enquiry won’t matter. You’ll simply receive a full payout if your pick is first past the post. If your chosen bookie adheres to the result of an enquiry and your pick is disqualified, you won’t receive a payout. If the results of enquiry allow your pick to win, you’ll receive a full payout.

Q: How long does a stewards enquiry take?

In general, all race reviews operate using the ethos: “stewards enquiry today”. Basically, this means that the review has to take place on the day of the race and as quickly as possible. This is to allow the rest of the meet to processed uninterrupted. Moreover, it’s to help bookmakers settle their payouts as quickly as possible. However, it is possible for on-the-day stewards enquiry results to be challenged at a later date.

Q: What are objections?

In horse racing, objections are appeals sent by the jockey to the Stipendiary Steward. A jockey can raise an objection after a race if they feel as though their progress was unfairly impeded. If the Stipendiary Steward agrees there is a case, they will take the objection to the panel.

Q: What are mediations?

If those affected by a stewards enquiry results disagree with the decision made, they have the right to appeal. If the appeal is accepted, it will start the mediation process through which both parties (i.e. the trainer, jockey etc and the review panel) discuss the incident and try to reach a resolution.

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