The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has been left red-faced after the wrong horses ran in two races at the same meeting this month, six months after a previous identify mix-up.
African Trader, a five-year-old bay or brown gelding, was declared to run in the 3.25pm all-weather handicap at Southwell on 14 January. But Scribner Creek ran instead under the name of African Trader, finishing third.
Then in the 3.55pm race at the same fixture, also an all-weather handicap, African Trader ran under the declaration of Scribner Creek, finishing joint seventh.
African Trader was selected for routine dope testing after the race and the error was picked up by the BHA, which described the incident as “simply unacceptable”, the following day.
Ivan Furtado, trainer of both horses, will face a hearing by the BHA’s disciplinary panel on 1 February.
The panel will be asked to consider whether both horses should be disqualified. Mr Furtado could also face a fine of between £500 and £2,000.
The error comes just six months after an “unprecedented” situation at Great Yarmouth in July, where a horse won a race for which she was not entered.
Horses are scanned on arrival at the stables at race meetings and an extra check — as runners leave their stables to go to the saddling area — was brought in as an interim measure following the Great Yarmouth mix-up.
Human error is believed to be the case in the Southwell incident.
“This is simply unacceptable; it affects the betting public, bookmakers and other participants and risks undermining confidence in the integrity of the sport,” said a BHA spokesman.
“The fact that the horses were not correctly identified on the racecourse was as a result of human error and not a technological fault.
“Where appropriate, steps are being taken internally to address the performance-related issues that arise from these errors.
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“Further, the BHA is now going to take measures to improve the robustness of the identification processes and reduce the risk of human error.
“This will take the form of enhancements to the identification technology to ensure that the scanning device links the identity of the horse being scanned out to the racecard for the race it is being scanned out for.
“This will ensure that if the wrong horse is brought out to be saddled an alert will prevent this from occurring.”
This is expected to be in place in March and the BHA is also considering scanning all placed horses prior to weighing in.
“The priority now is to ensure the BHA takes whatever steps are appropriate and necessary to ensure that this issue does not occur again,” added the spokesman.
“It is vital that the public’s trust in racing as a fair, well-regulated sport, which is run with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity, is not impacted by similar incidents.”
Mr Furtado declined to comment ahead of the hearing when contacted by H&H.
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