Phearson survives protest to win the Festival Stakes

Gerald Ryan captured a Festival Stakes on protest almost twenty years ago and came close to doing so again during an intriguing stewards’ room hearing into the feature race at Rosehill.

Ryan’s charge Williamsburg went down by a half-head to the Brad Widdup-trained Phearson after being baulked for clear running in the straight.

His jockey Tyler Schiller fired in a protest against Tom Sherry on the winner, but after some deliberation, chief steward Steve Railton dismissed the objection, deeming third placegetter Rustic Steel to be the main offender.

“It’s certainly not a straightforward matter and no doubt when Phearson shifts out….at approximately the one hundred metres, it does play some part in the incident,” Railton told Williamsburg’s connections.

“But the primary part of the interference to Williamsburg is courtesy of Rustic Steel.”

It was a different result to 2005 when the Ryan-trained Spirit Of Tara was awarded the Festival Stakes on protest after finishing second past-the-post to Our Apache, however the Rosehill horseman did get a clear win two years ago with Ellsberg.

While Williamsburg was the hard luck story of the race, the consistent Phearson did a great job to lead throughout and score at his first attempt beyond 1400m.

He could now be a surprise starter in next Saturday’s $3 million The Ingham (1600m) with trainer Brad Widdup open to the quick back-up and another extension in trip.

“He’s a lightly raced horse, he’s still learning, but he’s got a hell of a lot of natural ability,” Widdup said.

“He might race next week, I’ll see what happens, but I wouldn’t be frightened to back him up.”

Widdup hoped the more moderate tempo of a 1500m race might play into the hands of on-pacer Phearson and that’s how the Festival Stakes panned out, the horse atoning for minor placings at his past two starts.

He was also aided by a well-rated ride from Tom Sherry, who was keen to make the horse’s rivals chase.

“Tom came out positive wanting to lead and I said, ‘OK, away you go’,” Widdup said.

“It was good he’d had the ride on him last start and he was pretty confident he’d run well today.”

Phearson lasted by a half-head over Willimasburg with Rustic Steel another three-quarters of a length away third.

All three placegetters expected to back up in The Ingham.

About RS NewsWire

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