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Why Do Mistakes Like The Kempton Photo Finish On Friday Still Happen ?

Written by James Given

So the excitement builds!  Poppy May is declared for Southwell on Sunday. Unfortunately Paul Mulrennan was injured in a fall yesterday and is unable to ride her (best wishes for a speedy recovery Paul) however Tom Eaves is a very able replacement and I am sure he will look forward to taking over; same track, Southwell; same distance 7 furlongs; and a similar low draw as her last successful outing.  This time she faces a field of 13.  Three have not raced for 140 odd days and one not raced for 295 days.  That length of break is going to make it difficult for any of them to outrun race fit opposition.  Poppy’s last race had divided and both pairs of first and second home in each division re-oppose.  There are three whose recent form is not special and one who has good recent unrelated form at Southwell and one whose decent recent form is elsewhere.  Anyway, it is the right race for her and we hope she can continue the improvement we saw last time.

Sad Loss Of Mike Tucker

I was saddened to read yesterday of the death of Mike Tucker.  Not only was he the sound track to so many of my non-racing horse sport memories, but I was lucky enough to meet him a few times.  He was always approachable and engaging and to a young trainer, flattered me by knowing who I was!  I remember one time standing and chatting with him about a new stallion at Tweenhills Stud, called Ishiguru.  It seems an appropriate memory as Ishiguru is the sire of Poppy May’s dam!

Kempton Photo Finish Mistake On Friday

The photo finish mistake by the BHA judge last Friday at Kempton Park, which was corrected this week by the placings being reversed, is disappointing.  While humans are always going to make mistakes, the re-appearance of this mistake is frustrating.  It may well be that there needs to be investment in updating equipment to help the judge avoid this mistake occurring again.  While there is only so much financial pie that the BHA can divide up, if it is the case that new cameras are needed, then a slice of pie needs to be found.  The judge is in the firing line but if he or she would be helped by better equipment than they are being let down by its absence.  As I write this I am left wondering who owns the equipment?  Is it the racecourse, the BHA or Racetech who provide it?  As is often the case that buck could and would be passed around until bucks are found to pay for new equipment!

This sort of mistake puts the industry in an amateur and bungling light, not to mention the completely understandable anger of all the punters who lost out.  Some bookmakers will pay out on the corrected decision, but that is out of their pocket, largely as a show of good will to their clients, not in a philanthropic way to try and preserve the professional image of racing.  And it is not up to them to do so.

It is frustrating that the BHA appears not to be held to account for its mistakes, whether they are innocently made, as in this case, or more worryingly through negligence or ignorance, as would be all other parties that they govern and police in this sport.  There is sometimes mention of confidential, internal enquiries, but they do little to hold or restore the confidence and respect of those licensed by the Authority.

Who will guard the guards ?

This lack of accountability does make me think of the Roman quote “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”  Which translates to “who will guard the guards”?  I hope whoever takes over from Jamie Stier as the head of Regulation at the BHA creates a more open and accountable atmosphere, which will foster more confidence and respect from those they govern.

Like in all aspects of life there is good and bad, so the flip side of this is that the good work done by many at the BHA, that often goes unheralded, is left obscured by the less commendable episodes like this.  If it was me, I would be frustrated.

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