Punters who backed Royale Effort and Spring Choice in race four at Geelong on Friday are entitled to feel a little aggrieved. 

Spring Choice, backed from $4.50 into $2.70, was pulled up by jockey Stephen Baster immediately after the jump and took no part at all in the race. 

Baster believed the event was going to be declared a 'no race' following a very messy start which saw Lil' Bit Sassy, Spring Choice and Royale Effort miss the kick.

The latter was sluggish to begin due to his barrier opening slower than the rest of the field, while Lil' Bit Sassy's poor start was caused by an attendent holding the filly when the field was released.

Lil' Bit Sassy was declared a late scratching but the horse to her outside, Spring Choice, was deemed to have been given a fair start.

Royale Effort, although denied a fair beginning, could not be declared a late scratching after running into third. The rules of racing state that a placegetter cannot be scratched.

"It was clearly evident on the film that Royale Effort's barrier didn't open simultaneously to the other runners but because it ran third it cannot be deemed a non-runner," said Geelong steward James Hitchcock.

"Baster (on Spring Choice) was of the belief that the race would be a false start but you have to play to the whistle so it was declared a starter," Hitchcock said.

The race, a maiden plate over 1000m, was taken out by the Hawkes-trained Lakota, with 100-1 outsider The Freak running a close second.

The stewards' decision to declare the favourite Spring Choice a runner was not well-received on social media.