BHA to investigate why Musselburgh 10-furlong race was run over nine

Horse racing BHA to investigate why Musselburgh 10-furlong race was run over nine Robin Mounsey says ‘issue was deeply regrettable’
Any Currency stripped of Cheltenham race after dope test

The British Horseracing Authority is urgently investigating how a race at Musselburgh on Thursday afternoon was widely advertised as being staged over 10 furlongs when it was run over nine.

Horses were entered and declared for the HBJ Gately Handicap, worth £2,588 to the winner, on the basis it was a 10-furlong race. The racecard at Musselburgh also listed its distance as 10 furlongs, along with the Racing Post and most national newspapers, and the fact it was officially scheduled to be contested over a furlong less became apparent only late on Thursday morning.

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Moments before the off, as betting on the race reached its peak, the Racing Post’s website still listed the contest as being over 10 furlongs, although other internet sites had corrected the distance to nine. Despite the confusion, the race was not declared void for betting purposes, with Exclusive Diamond, the winner, returned as the 5-6 favourite.

Robin Mounsey, the BHA’s media manager, said the error was “deeply regrettable” and the authority is working with Weatherbys, which handles the sport’s administration, to find the cause.

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“The implications for horsemen and the betting public are obvious and we would like to apologise to all affected,” Mounsey said. “As soon as the issue was identified, a correction was distributed by Weatherbys, and all trainers were called to inform them of the error and to inform them they were able to withdraw theirhorses and have entry fees refunded should they not wish to run over the revised distance. No trainers took up this option.

“The BHA and Weatherbys are working together as a priority to understand what caused the issue. This is a serious matter and once the cause has been determined we will take whatever action is appropriate, including taking all steps to try to ensure that this does not happen again.”

On a busy day for the regulator, Any Currency became the first horse since 1980 to be disqualified from a race at the Cheltenham Festival owing to a failed post-race dope test when the BHA’s disciplinary panel confirmed Martin Keighley’s chaser had been stripped of his win in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase in March.

Any Currency tested positive for triamcinolone acetonide (TCA), a painkiller used to treat horses in training but not allowed to be present in a horse’s system on a race day. The normal withdrawal time after use of the drug is 14 days but the disciplinary panel accepted Keighley’s evidence to the hearing that Any Currency had been administered with TCA 41 days before his race at Cheltenham, describing its continued presence in the horse’s system as “exceptional”. As a result the panel did not impose a fine.

“I’m delighted the panel has vindicated my actions by deciding not to impose a fine against me,” the trainer said in a statement released through his solicitor. “Naturally still to be punished by losing the race in these circumstances is difficult to take but we must now look forward to the next Festival and Any Currency’s next run where I and my team will be all the more determined to win.”

Mark Boothright, who runs the syndicate which owns Any Currency, suggested the BHA had “bottled it” in remarks reported in the Racing Post. “The ruling is he has been disqualified, he will lose all the prize money but that Martin has done nothing wrong, so the BHA have bottled it,” he said. “It’s a complete shambles.”

Mounsey stressed the Authority’s “strict liability” rules on positive tests left the panel with little alternative but to disqualify Any Currency from first place. “There is no discretion,” he said. “The rule is one of strict liability and once a horse has tested positive, the automatic consequence is that it is disqualified, irrespective of whether any penalty is imposed. Our rules are in line with the European racing community, and the majority of the international racing community.”

Josies Orders, the runner-up in March, was promoted to first place. Any Currency is the first horse to be disqualified from first place for a failed dope test at the Festival since Tied Cottage, who was first across the line in the Gold Cup in 1980.

Read More at The Guardian

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