‘Unprecedented’ situation as wrong horse wins race

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  • An investigation is under way after a horse won a race it was not entered for in an “unprecedented” possible mix-up at Great Yarmouth.

    Mandarin Princess, trained by Philip “Charlie” McBride, was entered in the first race on the card — the 1.40pm novice auction stakes for two-year-olds.

    The horse was sent off at 50/1 under jockey John Egan and secured a close victory ahead of Fyre Cay and Take Shelter, who finished second and third respectively.

    However, when the mare was presented at the sampling unit for routine testing after her win, the microchip scan identified the horse to be the three-year-old Millie’s Kiss — the trainer’s other runner of the meeting who was entered in the fourth race.

    The stewards report states an enquiry was held and the trainer, stable groom, veterinary officer and the equine welfare integrity officer responsible for the sampling unit were all interviewed.

    The matter has now been referred to the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) head office.

    “The incident at Great Yarmouth has been referred to the BHA’s head office in order that we can carry out an investigation, in accordance with our rules,” said a BHA spokesman.

    “Since we introduced the microchipping identification system an incident such as this is, as far as we are aware, unprecedented.

    “The issue had not been established until after the result had been made official.

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    “After the weighed in has been declared on the racecourse, the result cannot be amended by the stewards.

    “The responsibility lies with the trainer to present and run the correct horse in the race.

    “Having said that, and while we have not seen an incident of this nature in recent times, we will of course determine what steps need to be put in place to prevent it from happening again.

    “We sympathise with the betting operators and betting public who have potentially been affected by this incident.”

    UPDATE: Friday, 28 July

    BHA chief executive Nick Rust, issued an update today (Friday, 28 July).

    He said the BHA is “processing the investigation” and gathering the full facts from the racecourse, including a transcript of the stewards’ enquiry and an additional report from the stewards.

    “This will then determine how this matter is progressed, including potentially lodging an objection to the result and any appropriate disciplinary charges against the participants involved,” he said, adding any such action will be considered by the BHA’s disciplinary panel.

    “The rules do not provide for the stewards on the day to disqualify the horse as the ‘weighed in’ announcement had been made and the result declared official before the issue had been detected.

    “As such the stewards were correct to refer the matter to the BHA’s head office so the appropriate follow-up enquiries and procedures can be followed, including conducting an analysis of the betting on the race and awaiting the results of the analysis of the post-race sample.

    “We understand why people were calling for the horse to be disqualified on the day, however this would not be appropriate in the absence of all the information required to make a properly informed decision about the situation as a whole.”

    Mr Rust said the timing of the announcement on the racecourse — which came hours after the race — was due to other events on the day meaning stewards could not finish their enquiries until after the fourth race.

    “However, we are aware of the need to keep racegoers informed with accurate information and we’ll consider this as part of our wash-up from the incident,” he said.

    “While it is the responsibility of the trainer to ensure the correct horse takes part in the race, as the regulator we take overall responsibility for the running of a raceday, which is why it falls to us to resolve this specific matter.

    “I have taken steps to apologise to the betting industry for any additional costs and operational issues incurred as a result, and I would also like to apologise to any betting customer who has been adversely affected.

    “We also appreciate the impact on connections of other horses involved on the day, though in the fullness of the time the steps that we take will likely result in those connections receiving the correct rewards from the race.”

    The BHA is now taking steps to look at what can be done to minimise the chances of this happening again.

    “It is a risk that we have considered in the past but which has been identified as minimal, and indeed in the 18 years since we introduced the microchipping of horses this is the first time that such an incident has occurred,” he said.

    “Potential solutions to reduce the small risk of this happening even further could come at a significant cost to the industry, and so we must determine an acceptable balance of risk and costs.

    “This will be treated as a priority and we’ll provide an update on this matter as soon as we are able.”

    “For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday

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