By Andy Stephens
Nick Rust says the British Horseracing Authority will have to determine “an acceptable balance of risk and costs” when it comes to taking steps to prevent the possibility of the fiasco that happened at Yarmouth on Thursday happening again.
The Chief Executive of the BHA issued a statement on the incident that took place at Yarmouth 24 hours earlier - when the first race on the card for two-year-olds was won by an older stablemate who should have run at the meeting later in the afternoon.
There was a mix of rancor and ridicule after the “victory” of 50-1 shot Mandarin Prince was allowed to stand. It was another Charlie McBride-trained horse, Millie’s Kiss, who actually ran and won by a neck.
“We will take steps to see what can be done, more generally, to minimise the possibilities of an issue such as this occurring again,” Rust said. “It is a risk that we have considered in the past but which has been identified as minimal, and indeed in the 18 years since we introduced the microchipping of horses this is the first time that such an incident has occurred.
“Potential solutions to reduce the small risk of this happening even further could come at a significant cost to the industry, and so we must determine an acceptable balance of risk and costs. This will be treated as a priority and we’ll provide an update on this matter as soon as we are able.”
Bookmakers were left out of pocket - most paid out on the winner and the second - and some punters were also affected. Many observers were left perplexed that the result was not changed or race even voided.
Rust said: “I have taken steps to apologise to the betting industry for any additional costs and operational issues incurred as a result, and I would also like to apologise to any betting customer who has been adversely affected.
“We also appreciate the impact on connections of other horses involved on the day, though in the fullness of the time the steps that we take will likely result in those connections receiving the correct rewards from the race.
“The rules do not provide for the stewards on the day to disqualify the horse as the “weighed in” announcement had been made and the result declared official before the issue had been detected.
“As such the stewards were correct to refer the matter to the BHA’s head office so that the appropriate follow-up enquiries and procedures can be followed, including conducting an analysis of the betting on the race and awaiting the results of the analysis of the post-race sample.
“We understand why people were calling for the horse to be disqualified on the day, however this would not be appropriate in the absence of all the information required to make a properly informed decision about the situation as a whole.”
He added: “The BHA is progressing the investigation regarding Mandarin Princess. We are gathering the full facts from the racecourse, including a transcript of the stewards enquiry and an additional report from the stewards.
"This will then determine how this matter is progressed, including potentially lodging an objection to the result and any appropriate disciplinary charges against the participants involved. Any such action will be considered by the Disciplinary Panel.
“Regarding the timing of an announcement on the racecourse, other events on the day meant that the stewards were unable to conclude their enquiries into the incident until after the fourth race, with an announcement made as soon as possible after the following race. However, we are aware of the need to keep racegoers informed with accurate information and we’ll consider this as part of our wash-up from the incident.”