Video footage to ‘dispel controversies’ and aid judges at British point-to-points

  • New technology to “dispel controversies” and protect volunteer judges will be introduced for all point-to-point finishes for the first time this season.

    The 2021/22 pointing season starts this week, with the East Devon opening the calendar at Bishops Court on Saturday (30 October).

    Judges will have access to slow-motion video footage of horses crossing the finish line at all courses this season as the sport takes a further step into the digital age. It is hoped that the technology, funded by Highflyer Bloodstock, will help in the case of close results.

    “These [pictures] will be provided by the latest iPad Pro working with slo-mo at 240 frames per second, which is the equivalent of less than 10cms of forward movement a frame,” said an update from Point-to-Point Authority (PPA) chief executive Peter Wright.

    “Being on an iPad, it will be easy to check quickly and for stewards to look at if required. The footage will also be sent to the PPA and BHA [British Horseracing Authority] after the event with the latter having the right to change the result if required, as under Rules.”

    Mr Wright added that while participants will now have the right to object to race results, “it is to be hoped that there will be no need”.

    The judge will be able to give a result, if clear, and the shortest distance between horses remains a short head.

    “For those who are concerned that this takes us away from the amateur values of the sport, I believe strongly that this is vital for the protection of our volunteer judges who have on occasion been pilloried by social media for just doing their best in difficult circumstances,” said Mr Wright.

    Updates on horse welfare rules are also in place for this season.

    All horses aged 15 years and over must have a vet certificate, stating that they are in condition to run safely, provided with their declaration form for their first run of the season.

    Officials already have powers to instruct the withdrawal of a horse for a number of reasons. Under this season’s rules, there is a new point added whereby if a person is advised (rather than instructed) that the condition of a horse warrants his withdrawal, the decision rests on the person responsible for that horse. A record of the advice and the outcome will be taken and sent to the PPA and BHA.

    “Point-to-pointing has a good story to tell in this area but it is becoming an issue of increasing focus and perception is often as important as reality,” added Mr Wright.

    In terms of jockey welfare, the accident rate over the past five years has “reduced heavily”, which has been attributed to environmental improvements, use of trauma doctors on course and jockey riding assessments.

    As is currently the case under Rules, jockeys will only be allowed to ride at one course a day, whether under Rules or in point-to-point.

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