Great Leighs rejoins the all weather race

Great Leighs - deserted and desolate

Great Leighs - deserted and desolate

Racing at Great Leighs was a short-lived affair, a matter of barely nine months. Any hopes of a resumption there faded still further when owner John Holmes was named to be at the heart of a VAT fraud a couple of weeks ago. How quickly things can change. Read more

Newcastle and Catterick outline plans for all weather racing

All change at the Bridge?

All change at the Bridge?

Proposals from Newcastle and Catterick could see all weather racing at both venues by 2016. The plans would see an end to turf flat racing, but would not affect jump racing at either track. Read more

Disgraced Butler to appeal length of ban

gerardbutlerOne of the best Christmas presents racing could give itself would be an end to this year’s saga of drug treatments of horses. The Mahmood Al Zarooni business was dealt with swiftly, and as a result, Charlie Appleby had the good fortune to be able to step up to the plate as a Godolphin trainer. Read more

Racing leads the way in fight against spot fixing

spotfixBosses from the British Horseracing Authority were among the sporting administrators taking part in yesterday’s spot fixing summit called by the Government’s culture secretary Maria Miller. Adam Brickell represented the horseracing industry, along with people from the governing bodies of football, cricket, rugby league, rugby union and tennis. Read more

ARC defends Wolverhampton surface as it prepares for replacement

Wolverhampton - safe says BHA

Wolverhampton - safe says BHA

Criticism by trainers of the state of the racing surface at Wolverhampton appears to have struck home with Arena Racing Company, which runs the Midlands track. It has announced a tender process to replace the Polytrack will begin in the New Year. Read more

Murphy gets extended Christmas holiday after scrap with Elsworth

MurphyTimmy Murphy has taken responsibility for the fight between himself and Dominic Elsworth that took place at Newbury a week ago. His misdemeanour earned him a nine-day ban at a British Horseracing authority disciplinary hearing at Wincanton yesterday. Read more

Jockey Balboa puts himself on the ropes

Timmy MurphyTimmy Murphy landed himself on the ropes after he turned Jockey Balboa in the Newbury weighing room on Friday. His scrap with fellow jockey Dominic Elsworth resulted in Murphy heading off to hospital with a suspected (later confirmed) dislocated shoulder, and meant he was unable to ride in the Hennessy Gold Cup for a second year in a row. Read more

BHA starts consultation as fewer run in novice chases

Few runners in Newbury novice chases

Few runners in Newbury novice chases

If any further evidence were needed of the problems besetting novice chasing, it was provided this week. Newbury had to re-open both the Grade 2 events that take place at the Hennessy meeting. and yesterday the British Horseracing Authority announced a consultation with trainers on the whole programme for that group of horses. Read more

Henderson frustrated by novice chase programme

Grandouet - forced back to Sandown

Grandouet - forced back to Sandown

Nicky Henderson probably doesn’t look at the Geegeez site, but if he did, his comments yesterday could be seen as an answer to the question posed by Matt on Monday. The champion trainer acknowledged that his stable has not performed as well as last year, and offered two particular reasons for that. Read more

A topsy turvy week for Adam Kirby

adam kirbyAdam Kirby is having a really up and down week. He was on a high on Tuesday after riding his first four-timer at Kempton, but brought down to earth yesterday when he was again referred to the BHA for repeated infringements of the whip rules. Read more

BHA makes Jockey Coaching Programme permanent

Tom  Garner - success in JCP

Tom Garner - success in JCP

As Tony McCoy closes in on his landmark 4000th winner, we take a look at jockeys who are just starting out on a professional career, the apprentices and conditionals. Read more

Dwyer and Mulrennan accused of race fixing by Indian authorities

dwyermulrennanIf Martin Dwyer thought his nightmare time with the Indian racing authorities was over, new allegations published in the Mumbai Mirror last Friday could bring him into conflict with the Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC) once again. The Mumbai Mirror calls the story “the sport’s biggest race fixing racket in recent years.” Read more

Slow motion judge adds 45 lengths in Huntingdon gaffe.

photofinishA small field is no bar to drama in racing, as events at Huntingdon on Tuesday showed. The 32Red Handicap Chase attracted just four runners, of which only two finished. The drama unfolded both in the race itself and later in the judge’s box.

There was no great surprise that Tigre D’Aron needed the race. He hadn’t run for 325 days, so it was understandable when he weakened and tailed off in the final mile. He was already well behind when the other three came to the second last. Here, the two joint favourites, Strongbows Legend and Ballypatrick ended their race. The former fell, fatally as it turned out, hampering his rival, who then unseated jockey Conor O’Farrell.

That left outsider Muldoon’s Picnic to come home a long way in front of Tigre D’Aron. But exactly how far? The officiating judge, David Hicks, declared a distance of more than 99 lengths.

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We need to make a slight diversion here to consider the question “How far is a length in racing?” It’s only recently that I learned exactly how this is calculated. In practice, it isn’t a distance of measurement, but of time, determined by the sort of race involved and the going. Here’s how the BHA describes the process of determining distances (and see image below).

How the Judge calculates Distances
Distances are calculated on the elapsed time between each horse and then a scale known as the Lengths per Second Scale (Lps) is used dependent upon whether it is Flat or Jumps racing, the type of surface in use at the all weather fixtures and the official going description issued on the day. The Scales used vary from 4 to 5 Lps for Jumps racing and from 5 to 6 Lps on the Flat. When the going description distinguishes between different parts of the course, the scale relating to the going in the straight is applied.

Lengthspersecond (640x354)The Photo-finish system records an elapsed time between each finisher and the Judge is responsible for ensuring that the correct Lps scale is being used. If however the actual physical distance appears to be different from that calculated then the Judge has it within his powers to alter the distance to that which is physically seen. This would be done for the first three distances up to two and a half lengths.

As we can see, photo finish equipment is used to determine distances, bur for this race it hadn’t been switched on. Hicks had to resort to RaceTech film of the race. It’s here that the post race drama occurred. Hicks made an error when he was watching the replay, timing the events with a stopwatch, as Robin Mounsey explained for the BHA after the mistake had come to light. He said, “The judge was unaware he was watching a slow motion replay so the time he ascertained was double the actual time between the first and second placed horses.” Ergo, the declared distance was twice the actual margin, subsequently corrected to 53 lengths.

RaceTech acknowledged their part in the error, saying their technician had put the tape on at the wrong speed, and as the winning distance was so great it had no impact on any distance betting. Sporting Index, the major firm offering that market, operates a maximum of 30 lengths for any individual race.

Everyone has acknowledged their part in the mishap, with Hicks excused his error. Mounsey added, “It has been noted and corrected. We have received only one comment and that wasn’t a complaint.”

Dwyer spared as BHA rejects Indian suspension

martin dwyer2Martin Dwyer’s eight-month nightmare is over. In February the Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC) slapped a 56-day ban on Dwyer, after he was beaten on hot favourite Ice Age at Mahalaxmi racecourse. During the race, the horse bled. Since then, he has engaged on a series of appeals in an effort to clear his name, travelling back to India more than once. Read more

Sandown jump card ends season in new look fixture calendar

Only one course to end jumps season

Only one course to end jumps season

The racing calendar for 2014 will feature several small, but significant changes, the British Horseracing Authority announced yesterday in a “headline” document. We’ll learn the full impact of the changes next week, when the fixtures for the year are released, a delay the BHA agreed to allow time for more courses to sign up to the prize money agreements with the Horsemen’s Group and the BHA. Read more