Confusion reigned in the EBF Matchbook VIP “National Hunt” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown, with the judge incorrectly calling One For Rosie as the winner.
The 12-1 chance, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by his son, Sam, had been announced as beating the Hughie Morrison-trained, Tom O’Brien-ridden Third Wind.
But it transpired the call had been based on a photo-finish print from the first winning post on the track, when in fact the second one should have been used for the two-and-a-half-mile contest, at which Third Wind (9-1) had edged in front.
After a lengthy delay, the result was subsequently reversed.
Twiston-Davies said: “It’s very depressing, but mistakes happen. We did get beat, we’ve seen it there (replay).
“It’s a great shame, but we’ve still got a lovely horse. We got beat, they got the wrong one, but that’s life.
“We’ve still got a lovely horse, so let’s not get too depressed.”
Morrison said: “We didn’t necessarily know we’d got up on the second line, but it looked like we did to the naked eye.
“A professional punter came up to the winner’s enclosure and said it was it was the wrong one called (winner). I went into the weighing room and asked Nicky Henderson which is the right winning post and he said the second one.
“I then said to Tom that you have got to object, but the officials then intervened.”
He added: “It’s not the way we really wanted to win a race, but I think the horse deserved it as he hated it all the way round. It’s fantastic for a British owner-breeder.
“Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve the horse had an accident in his box, he caught his nose on the bucket clip. He ran 10 days later and that’s how quick horses can recover.
“He just missed his prep when he was beaten at Plumpton.”
A number of bookmakers opted to pay out on both results.
Coral’s David Stevens said: “Given the confusion, we have made a decision to pay out on both, but it’s an infuriating thing to happen at any time.”
Chief steward Will Hudson said: “The result for race two was initially called incorrectly.
“As you know here at Sandown, we have two winning lines and it transpires the judge called the result based on a photo-finish from the first camera on the first finish line.
“There are two cameras in operation. A primary camera and a back-up camera. The initial image the judge was provided with was from the primary camera, which was focused on the chase winning line.
“He had no reason at the time to question this, so he called the result.
“The procedure then is to pass the result to the stewards. The photo I was presented with was off the same photo. Through our powers of the verification procedure I was able to stop the weighed-in (signal) being given and queried the result with the judge.
“It then transpired another image was available from the back-up camera and the result was able to be corrected prior to the weighed-in being given.
“There was a little suspicion of the distance of a neck on the initial image as it didn’t appear to match the picture on the television in the stewards’ room, as it looked closer than a neck. The judge in that time had identified there was another image available.”
A statement from the British Horseracing Authority read: “The incorrect result was initially given in the 1.50pm at Sandown this afternoon announcing One For Rosie as the winner.
“The photo-finish image that was sent to the judge, and then subsequently to the stewards, by the racecourse photo-finish operator was from a camera which had been left focused on the winning line for the chase course.
“There are two cameras in operation, a primary and a secondary, which were tested by the operator as part of routine pre-race checks on both winning lines prior to racing. The primary camera was then not correctly re-aligned to focus on the winning line for the hurdles course.
“An initial provisional result was given, shortly after which it was picked up through additional verification procedures by the judge that the wrong image had been sent by the racecourse photo-finish operator.
“The result was then corrected to announce Third Wind as the winner, prior to the ‘weighed-in’ signal being given and the result becoming official.
“Although the result is only official once the ‘weighed-in’ signal is given and the result was corrected prior to this, we are aware of the impact this will have on those bookmakers who settle bets based on the ‘fast’ unofficial result, which is the one initially announced.
“We will be investigating this incident thoroughly as a matter of priority to understand all of the circumstances involved, this will include engagement with the external racecourse contractors who operate the photo-finish system.”
The one that was called the winner probably took out £10,000 in my book
Barry Dennis, an on-course bookmaker at Sandown since 1964, said: “This is the situation, gone are the days where you can make punters wait. If they have a winner, they are right under your nose and want paying straight away, not to wait 10 minutes for a decision to be made.
“The one that was called the winner probably took out £10,000 in my book, then when the second was promoted it probably took out another £10,000.”