A £5,000 fine has been handed to Cheltenham racecourse after a post was left on the track during a race.
The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) disciplinary panel held an enquiry yesterday (Thursday, 21 April) about the incident that happened ahead of the fifth race, the mares’ hurdle, on Champion Day (15 March) of the Festival (not pictured).
The panel found that Jockey Club Racecourses, in its capacity as the managing executive of Cheltenham racecourses, had breached rule (F)15.3.4 by failing to carry out their responsibility to ensure that the course and fences were maintained in good condition.
The “spigot” — an upright post over which the legs of the running rails fit — had been left in the crossing after the second-last flight of hurdles, approximately one metre from the inside of the running rails.
The Panel heard submissions from Lyn Williams, on behalf of the BHA and considered written submissions on behalf of the executive.
It also viewed recordings, seen by the Cheltenham stewards on the day, as well as the Channel 4 footage.
On viewing a video of the race, the panel was concerned that horses had to take evasive action to avoid it.
“The panel noted that Simon Claisse, clerk of the course, reported at the stewards’ enquiry on the day that the rail that goes across the crossing had been taken out for the sand to be sprayed with a green dye and that the spigot must have been inadvertently left by a member of the ground staff,” read a statement from the hearing.
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“Mr Claisse had later conducted a thorough investigation and spoken to each member of the ground staff, none of whom considered that they had left the spigot.
“In light of this, the BHA accepted that there was no explanation as to how the spigot was left on the track.”
It was also noted that the Cheltenham executive had put procedures in place to make sure this does not happen again.
“Having considered the evidence the panel accepted an admission that it was in breach of rule (F)15.3.4 and fined the executive £5,000,” read the statement.