The result of the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket has been amended in the wake of the confusion surrounding Aidan O’Brien’s runners in the Newmarket Group One on October 9.
O’Brien’s Snowfall was named as the third-placed finisher on the day, when it was in fact her stable companion Mother Earth.
A field of 10 runners went to post on the Rowley Mile, with victory going to 5-2 favourite Pretty Gorgeous, trained by Aidan’s son Joseph O’Brien, by half a length from John Gosden’s Indigo Girl.
It was initially thought 50-1 shot Snowfall had finished a further half-length away in third in the hands of James Doyle, with Mother Earth back in eighth under William Buick.
However, posts on social media soon questioned the outcome – and it subsequently became evident the horse that had passed the post in third was in fact 18-1 chance Mother Earth, the darker of the two fillies, with the lighter Snowfall back in the field.
While Doyle was correctly sporting the pink cap and the number nine saddle cloth assigned to Snowfall, he was in fact riding Mother Earth.
O’Brien was not at Newmarket – and on viewing a recording of the race at home, he quickly contacted the British Horseracing Authority to alert them to the mistake and that his on-course staff, based in Britain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, had saddled the horses incorrectly.
The BHA has now confirmed it has used its powers under Rule (G)7 of the rules of racing to amend the result, with Mother Earth placed third and Snowfall eighth.
The BHA said in a statement that the result had been amended rather than the horses disqualified because “the grounds for potential disqualification are set out in the rules of racing, are specific and do not include horses starting from the wrong starting stalls or carrying the wrong jockey.
“Because the horses that ran in the race were duly entered and carried the correct weight, the only possible disqualification ground would be if the horses were the subject of fraudulent practice. Therefore the rules provide no grounds for disqualifying the horses, pending the result of the ongoing investigation.
“However, as a result of this case the rules will now be reassessed to determine whether there should be additional grounds for disqualification.”
The statement added: “The saddling of the correct horses for a race is the responsibility of the trainer. An investigation remains ongoing in relation to the incorrect saddling of the horses, and as such the BHA will make no further comment at this time. Any updates will be communicated in line with usual procedures for disciplinary matters.”
The BHA also said that it is considering the implications of the incident to assess whether further changes to the relevant raceday procedures may be brought in, utilising the new raceday officiating structure, as an additional safeguard against trainer error and to minimise the risk of such an event recurring.