Yet Another Wrong Horse

'The responsibility lies with the trainer to present and run the correct horse in the race'

With South African punters still very much in the dark, despite official findings of guilt on the part of the trainers concerned by the National Horseracing Authority after a recent case at Fairview and Kimberley, British horseracing now also finds itself at the centre of an identity storm.

Trainers Sharon Kotzen and Corrie Lensley were recently fined for presenting the wrong horse for racing. But the level of public disclosure and explanation as to what actually happened has been lacking, with Joe Public expected to swallow brief press releases and carry on investing hard earned rands in the game.

See more in the latest SP Digest

At least the trainers and the British regulator have already made statements! reports that the 2yo Mandarin Princess, trained by Charlie McBride, was declared winner of Thursday’s 13:40 race at Great Yarmouth after beating Fyre Cay.

But a scan afterwards identified the horse as three-year-old stablemate Millie’s Kiss, who had been due to run in a later race at the same course.

“It’s an honest error and no-one stood to gain anything by it,” said McBride.

Stewards referred the matter to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

The result officially stands for betting purposes, but some bookmakers have said they will pay out on the horses finishing first and second.

Leading SA Bookmaker Hollywoodbets issued a statement yesterday

McBride told the Racing Post he did not notice it was the wrong horse because he was “stressed and rushing” after being delayed collecting the saddle.

“I took a young girl who has been with me for two or three months to the races – she’s ridden both fillies and knows them both,” he said.

“After we checked them in we got some lunch and I sent her to get the two-year-old ready and I went to the weighing room to get the saddle.

“I like to weigh my horses out early but I had to wait over 20 minutes for the saddle.

“The filly was already out when I got back and as I was stressed and rushing I didn’t look that closely – I just assumed it was the right horse.”

The BHA described the incident as “unprecedented” since a microchipping identification system for horses was introduced in 1999.

It said: “The scan identified the horse to be Millie’s Kiss, the trainer’s other runner in race four.

“They (the stewards) interviewed the trainer, the stable groom, the veterinary officer and the equine welfare integrity officer responsible for the sampling unit.

“Having heard their evidence they referred the matter to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority and ordered Millie’s Kiss to be withdrawn from race four.”

Millie’s Kiss had been due to run for Newmarket trainer McBride in the 15:15 race.

The responsibility lies with the trainer to present and run the correct horse in the race.

Stipendiary steward Tony McGlone told At The Races all horses are scanned before they are brought into their stables at the course.

“We sent the horse for routine testing as normal and the veterinary officer scanned the horse and found it to be the incorrect horse,” he said.

Punter Nicholas Quinn said the controversy had left racegoers bemused.

“This looks very bad for British racing. The one thing you shouldn’t have to hope for is that the right horse is in the right race,” he said.

John Egan, who rode the ‘winner’, said he was surprised the horse was not disqualified or the race declared void.

“At the end of the day, we’re all human. Mistakes happen. I feel most sorry for Charlie,” he said.

John Mear, a member of the Four Winds Racing Partnership that own Millie’s Kiss, said they were “shocked and upset” for the trainer.

“It’s nothing untoward. He’s just made a genuine mistake. He must be absolutely heartbroken,” he said.

What the BHA says

“The issue had not been established until after the result had been made official. After the weighed in has been declared on the racecourse, the result cannot be amended by the stewards.

“The responsibility lies with the trainer to present and run the correct horse in the race.

“Having said that, and while we have not seen an incident of this nature in recent times, we will of course determine what steps need to be put in place to prevent it from happening again. We sympathise with the betting operators and betting public who have potentially been affected by this incident.”

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