Is this the most expensive rake ever? Garden tool forces race to be voided

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  • The garden rake has gained notoriety overnight in the racing world after one of the humble tools caused a race to be voided, costing millions.

    The Shum Wan Handicap (race four) at Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong was voided by stewards on Wednesday (26 October) after the starting gates failed to open at the same time.

    The reason? A rake had become stuck in the barrier.

    “It has been established that tracks staff placed two rakes on the side of the barrier,” said a statement from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

    “When the starter initiated the start, one of the rakes became jammed in the barrier opening mechanism, causing a non-simultaneous opening of the barriers.

    “The pre-race protocol for the barrier loading and starting process was otherwise normal. The mechanics of the barriers were in no way defective.”

    No injuries were reported in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s incident report of the race.

    Under rule 12 (39), stewards declared the race void and all bets — which totalled a whopping HK$126,206,410 (£13,370,991) — were refunded. Arrangements were also put in place for affected pool bets.

    With the cheapest rake on DIY megastores Homebase and B&Q retailing at around £7, that would be enough to buy around 1,910,141 of the garden shed staples.

    The incident is also believed to be the first time a race has been voided in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s 132-year history.

    The club has released a slow-motion video of the start of the race on social media, which shows the delay in the opening of several individual gates.

    Barriers three, six, 10 and 12 opened first, followed by two, four, five, seven, nine and 11, with one and eight the last to be released.

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    The starting stalls used in the race were removed for the remainder of the meeting, pending further inspection.

    The club has also started a “full inquiry” into the incident.

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