What is a Stewards’ Enquiry?

The governing body of horse racing in Britain, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) employs professional, or ‘stipendiary’, stewards, at least two of whom are in attendance at any race meeting. The job of the stipendiary stewards is to assist the raceday stewards, who are, in fact, unpaid volunteers, in the enforcement of the Rules of Racing, as laid down by the BHA.

Collectively, the stewards watch each race as it happens and afterwards review proceedings from various camera angles, including head-on and side-on, to ensure that the race was fairly run and no rules were broken. If they suspect that any rule breaches, such as interference, excessive or incorrect use of the whip or horses not being run on their merits, they will call a Stewards’ Enquiry, which is announced over the the public address system at the racecourse.

During a Stewards’ Enquiry, the stewards take evidence from the jockeys and/or trainers involved in any suspected wrongdoing and review relevant race footage in the stewards’ room. Of course, a Stewards’ Enquiry cannot commence until the jockeys involved have returned the woighing room, so there may be a delay between the initial announcement of a Stewards’ Enquiry and the announcement of its outcome.

Following a period of deliberation, in the absence of the connections involved, the stewards reach a decision, which may or may not affect the official finishing position of one or more of the horses involved. Connections are informed of the outcome, the stewards prepare a report and their decision, or decisions, are relayed to racegoers, again over the public address system.