Horse Racing: Punters Lose Out as Stewards Get it Wrong Again

British Horse Racing Stewards Call Photo-Finish Wrong Again!

Stewarding at British horse racing tracks is under the microscope once again following Wednesday’s news that the result of a photo-finish from Kempton Park last Friday night was called incorrectly by the local judge and stewards.

Many online bookmakers, such as Paddy Power, do pay out customers when such accidents occur, it comes under their ‘justice payments’ or ‘fair play’ rules.

However, given that it has taken four days for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) to announce a mistake was made, it is unlikely any betting firms will pay out on the official winner (10/11 favourite Oregon Gift) which was declared a runner-up on the night.


History Repeats Itself

Such enormous faux-pas are becoming commonplace on the UK’s racecourses.

Last summer controversy reigned at Yarmouth racecourse when it transpired the Charlie McBride-trained Mandarin Princess, a shock 50/1 winner a two-year-old race (overturning the odds-on favourite), was in fact stablemate Millie’s Kiss, a three-year-old with plenty of racecourse experience.


Video: Racing Post's take on the Yarmouth fiasco of 2017

The mistake, which should have been picked-up by course officials before the horses headed out on course, cost punters thousands as the official ‘weighed-in’ signal had been announced before the mistake was noticed.

When the case went before a BHA enquiry McBride was fined £1,500 for the fiasco but admitted he would pay for part of the fine with his £600 winnings from a £10 each-way wager he placed on ‘the winner’!  


Mistake and More Mistakes

Naturally jockeys have been known to make plenty of errors, particularly taking the wrong course or riding out a finish a circuit too early. But incorrectly inspecting a photo-finish is something altogether different.

Remarkably it has happened several times in the past, In 2006 racecourse judge Jane Stickles (later re-named ‘Calamity Jane’) called Welsh Dragon, the 9/4 favourite, as first past the post by a short head instead of 14/1 chance Miss Dagger at Lingfield in 2006. She had done similar at Newmarket in 1999.

More recently, in 2013, racecourse judge Dave Smith who seemed to take pride in calling seemingly tight finishes quickly also got it wrong.  Just 50 seconds is what he needed to declare a dead-heat at Kempton Park between Extra Noble, the even-money favourite, and Fire Fighting, a 16-1 chance.  Once again it took the BHA several days to announce a mistake was made and the race was actually ‘won’ by the favourite. Smith was to lose his job

Just when and where the next ‘whoopsie’ will come from no one knows, but one thing is for certain, heads should roll as given modern day technology, no judge or steward should demonstrate such incompetence.


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