A review of procedures will take place after a race was ultimately awarded to the seventh-placed jockey, when the majority of runners were disqualified for missing a hurdle.
Confusion arose in the mares’ handicap hurdle at Fontwell Park yesterday (15 November) when it appeared chevron signs had been placed in a hurdle in the final circuit resulting in seven jockeys missing out the jump. The chevrons had been carried across the course in order to guide riders around pulled-up horse Bluebell Sally, who was receiving veterinary treatment.
Welsh jockey Jack Tudor on the Clare Hobson-trained Dharma Rain was the only rider to jump the obstacle, so he was awarded the win, instead of the first-home Harry Reed on Just Henny.
A stewards’ report said an enquiry was held to establish the placings owing to the fact all the riders, except Jack and Sean Houlihan on Bluebell Sally, bypassed the third flight from home on the final circuit.
Jockeys Jeremiah McGrath, Brendan Powell, Page Fuller, Lucy Gardner, Harry Reed, Tabitha Worsley, and Niall Houlihan were interviewed, as were the clerk of course, the head groundsman and an additional member of the ground staff. After listening to the evidence and watching recordings of the incident, the stewards revised the placings, awarding Jack the win while all other runners were disqualified for taking the wrong course.
“Taking into account, on this occasion the poor visibility, and the illusion that the chevrons had been placed in the hurdle – which was caused by the chevrons being carried across the course behind the hurdle, which gave riders cause for concern for the safety of all involved – no penalties were imposed on any rider,” read the report.
In a post-race interview with At The Races when describing what happened Jack said it had been “very unclear” whether the hurdle was included or not.
“It looked like that hurdle could have been out very easily, it was a 50/50,” he said.
Although he had seen the other riders go round the fence, Jack jumped the hurdle, adding that there was “nothing on the fence”.
“I thought I will go with my gut instinct and jump it,” he said.
A spokesman for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) told H&H a report of the incident had been forwarded to the BHA’s head office for further consideration, including whether any further regulatory action needs to be taken.
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“The BHA will also work with the racecourse to understand what caused the incident and what the course can do to ensure that a repeat does not occur,” he said.
A spokesman for Arena Racing Company (ARC), which owns Fontwell Park, told H&H ARC is in the process of undertaking a full review of the procedures that were adopted to guide runners around a horse receiving veterinary treatment.
“Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, as a goodwill gesture to the owners of the horses that were subsequently disqualified, ARC will pay the equivalent of the prize money to the first four horses past the post and the applicable appearance money scheme to the remaining runners,” he said.
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