Double drama as two horses run out through tape at Cheltenham

Cheltenham is reviewing its track after two horses took the wrong course, running out through a length of tape on the racecourse’s jump season opener.

One For Billy and Oighear Dubh both ran left through the tape in the closing stages of their respective races on the first day of The Showcase meeting (26 October).

One For Billy, trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by Dan’s brother, Harry, was giving a strong challenge to the eventual winner Dikali in the novices’ chase.

But the horse followed the running rail around the bend, which was cordoned off with white tape. Harry stayed on board and managed to pull up.

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Four races later, the same thing happened again.

Oighear Dubh, trained by Eugene O’Sullivan, led over the final fence in the amateur riders’ handicap chase, but followed the running rail to the left, skipping through the tape and unseating the trainer’s son, Michael, in the process.

Dan Skelton-trained Sam Red surged ahead of Presenting Julio and Fifty Shades to give Dan his 100th winner of the season.

“It has been an unbelievable day,” said Dan, adding the milestone is “great for all the team”.

Today has shown what racing is like — it’s bloody hard! It’s weird how it goes — you win some and you lose some.”

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Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said changes were made following a similar incident in the 2013 Foxhunter, where Oscar Delta jinked left and unseated jockey Jane Mangan. After that, the tape directing horses down the home straight was raised and the alignment was altered.

“That seems to have worked pretty well, but clearly after the two incidents [on Friday] we have to take another look at this,” Mr Claisse told ITV Racing’s Luke Harvey on Saturday (27 October).

He added extra staff were drafted in to put a fixed section of rail on the taped-off section for the second day of the 2018 Showcase.

“That might not necessarily work for the festival because the width of that gap is about double, but we want this environment to be safe for the horses and riders,” he explained.

“With this plan comes additional risk for the staff working out there because they are in a live racing environment and there can be loose horses around. That’s the plan for today [Saturday, 27 October] and we will then review it further with the British Horseracing Authority’s senior inspector of courses prior to the November meeting in three weeks.”

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