Ronaldo denied after Sandown photo-finish debacle

Owners frustrated after wrong winner is called

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Connections of Rio Ronaldo were left feeling thoroughly dissatisfied at Sandown after their horse was initially called the winner of the first race, only for the result to be revised just minutes later.

The Mike Murphy-trained Rio Ronaldo and Henry Candy’s Vibrant Chords were locked in battle at the finish of the five-furlong London Insurance Day Handicap, with the first-named runner called as the winner following a photo-finish.

However, it was then announced the result had been revised following further study of the finishing frame, with Vibrant Chords awarded a nose victory, much to the dismay of Rio Ronaldo’s owners The Castaways.

Syndicate member Paul Arlotte said: “The worst part about it was the manner in which the announcement about the revised result came.

“I was standing in the winner’s enclosure. I saw the screen, looked up and saw Vibrant Chords appear as the winner. To me, it is a very unsatisfactory way of dealing with it.

“If someone had said ‘hang on a minute, maybe there is another view to be taken’ that is fine, but we were just allowed to carry on as if we had won. That is the most disappointing thing to take.

“When you get that far down the road of being involved with a winner, you feel to some extent cheated that it hasn’t played out as you expected it to.

“The connections of the winner invited us to share a drink with them, which was a good thing to do. Henry Candy was very gracious in handling it, as he always is. I’m sure he felt this was not the ideal way for the race to be won.”

The British Horseracing Authority introduced a verification check for photo finishes earlier this week and insisted the system had worked, despite some bookmakers paying out before the result was officially confirmed.

Brant Dunshea, chief regulatory officer for the BHA, said: “That procedure has identified that the initial result was not called correctly and therefore the stewards asked the judge to clarify his decision.

“This resulted in the decision being amended prior to the ‘weighed in’ being announced. The new procedure has therefore worked as intended.

“Under the revised procedure judges will continue to announce the result as they first see it, but then a verification check will take place before the result is made official. The ‘weighed in’ announcement is the point at which a result is confirmed and at which point, under the rules of betting, bookmakers are obliged to pay out on the result, and not before.

“We appreciate that there is a period whereby those connected with the horse who placed second will have thought they had won. This is not ideal and why we must focus on getting the result correct first time.”

Sam Angell, Sandown’s stipendiary steward, admitted the communication surrounding the decision could benefit from review.

He said: “I don’t know how long it was, but we are thinking it was around three minutes from the result being announced on course to the correct result going through.

“We maybe have to look how this is communicated on course going forward.

“Traditionally all announcements go through the public address system and it is likely to still involve that. Whether there are other steps that need to be taken to make it crystal clear to people, as we appreciate there are some concerns that have been raised through this process.

“A report will be passed on. It will include what has happened so everyone is aware of the process and possible improvements that can be made.”

Ryan Moore took the riding honours at the Esher track after claiming a treble highlighted by the victory of the Richard Hannon-trained Well Done Fox in the Listed Dragon Stakes.

Melting Dew was a neck winner for Moore in the Besso Handicap, a victory which completed a double for winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who landed the Gala Stakes with Mustashry.

Steve Eastwood, stable representative, said of Melting Dew: “He looked beaten as he was headed, but he came back at them.

“We ran him at Epsom first time out and he ran solid enough then we found him a nice opportunity at Chelmsford City last time. He is improving and I’d say he would stay a mile and a half.”

The Simon Crisford-trained Saroog (7-4) completed Moore’s haul when taking the Sequel Handicap by three lengths.

The John Gosden-trained King Of Comedy (2-1) gave first-season sire Kingman another winner in the second division of the Good Care Group British EBF Novice Stakes.

Gosden’s son and assistant Thady, said: “He was very green coming up the hill as he stumbled in the dip, but he quickened and quickened again and galloped all the way to the line. Hopefully you would like to think he would stay a mile.”

Ronaldo denied after Sandown photo-finish debacle
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