Protektorat’s connections have been successful in their appeal against the Cheltenham stewards’ New Year’s Day decision to demote the Dan Skelton-trained gelding from first place in the Listed Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
The 15-2 chance passed the post a head in front of Fergal O’Brien’s Imperial Alcazar in the race that opened the card – but the stewards reversed the placings, judging interference had taken place at a ‘critical point in the race’.
An appeal was heard by an independent disciplinary panel in London on Thursday, with the BHA tweeting: “Result of the first of today’s two Disciplinary Panel hearings:
“D. Skelton’s Placings Appeal upheld, first past the post placings stand – PROTEKTORAT (FR) first, IMPERIAL ALCAZAR (IRE) second.
“Written reasons to follow in due course. Further result to follow.”
Skelton said: “I don’t really want to say too much on the matter, but we are happy to have got the race back. I’m obviously happy for the owners, who always wanted to appeal the decision.
“We thought there was a strong chance of getting it back, hence why we made the appeal.”
O’Brien took the news on the chin, saying: “Like I said on the day, it’s a bit like penalties – you win some and you lose some.
“We had a very fair hearing – we both put across very strong cases, and I shouldn’t think it was an easy decision for the panel to make. But they’ve made their decision, and it’s one we’ll stick by.”