Officials Must Be Answerable And Accountable, Too

If officials err, we never seem to hear anything. On the other hand, trainers and jockeys have their indiscretions heavily punished and splashed all over the media.

Maybe it’s time for a levelling of the playing fields, where everybody, even Stipes and Starters, get to be held accountable.

One man who would agree is Newmarket trainer Jack Jones who criticised the tardiness and communication of the British Horseracing Authority after the regulator postponed the second race of Newcastle’s all-weather card on Thursday in unique circumstances.

The Racing Post reports that the 1m2f handicap was due to take place on Newcastle’s round course at 5.05pm, seven minutes after sunset at 4.58pm.

However, despite the fact that floodlights covering just the straight course at Newcastle is usually factored into race planning, the realisation that it would not be safe to host the race due to low light was only made by the BHA and Arena Racing Company on Thursday morning.

A race cannot be run earlier than the advertised start time as part of the BHA’s general instructions related to the implications on the betting public, and so the Class 6 contest will now instead be run on Newcastle’s Saturday card.

Gold Aura, the general 7-2 favourite at the time of the postponement, had already undertaken a significant part of the 500-mile round trip from Jones’s Chestnut Tree Stables on the Hamilton Road before the BHA called the ten trainers involved in the race in question from around 10.40am, immediately after the decision was made, to inform them of the decision.

The cancellation on the morning of the race was a source of significant frustration to Jones, who had hired a horsebox from a fellow trainer to drive Heavenly Fire to run in a fillies’ novice at Lingfield, while his own horsebox had a wasted journey with a staff member carrying Gold Aura, who was due to be the trainer’s sole runner at Gosforth Park.

“It’s not only the staff time and the travel time,” said Jones. “It’s the knock-on effect of that. I’ve got one horsebox which went up to Newcastle and I’ve just driven someone else’s horsebox to the races.

“To be told at about 11 o’clock – how on earth has it managed to be that late? It should be a six-day thing when the entries are first put in, so I’m frustrated on that front.”

Gold Aura has been declared automatically for the rescheduled race along with the nine other runners.

Jones added: “We’re at a disadvantage because we’ve missed a day’s exercise whereas the northern trainers, which is most of them, probably hadn’t even left to go to the races.”

The BHA has offered a reimbursement payment to all connections to assist with the costs incurred, but Jones, who saddled a winner at Cheltenham in December, finds the mistake even more galling when compared with what trainers are fined for, such as incorrect sponsorships displayed in the paddock.

“The thing that annoys me is we make mistakes and we get absolutely crushed for them.

“It should be more than just covering our losses, because if we make a mistake we get fined. If one of my lads leads up in a sponsored jacket that isn’t supposed to be sponsored, we get fined.”

The BHA issued an apology in its statement, saying: “We are sorry for any inconvenience and confusion resulting from this error. We will now take steps to identify what caused this issue to ensure it is not repeated.”

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