Farcical foggy finale leaves Haydock racegoers guessing

Runners in the gloom at Haydock on Saturday

PICTURE: john Grossick (racingpost.com/photos) Nothing to see at Haydock as fog closes in By Keith Melrose 5:23PM 17 DEC 2016

IT SOUNDED as though the last race at Haydock on Saturday was a thriller, with the soon-labouring Clyne rallying under Adam Wedge to secure a narrow success over Le Rocher.

That all has to be taken with a fair degree of guesswork, however, as the race was run in next to total opacity due to thickening fog.

The runners could not be seen virtually until they crossed the line, and from the stands all that was clear was that one silhouette had crossed the line around half a length in front of another. Even racecourse commentator Stewart Machin conceded defeat.

Machin soldiered on manfully, but in summing up the race, said: "I'm afraid I can't tell you what won, what finished second or whether they all got around. But certainly to the fore late on it looked like Draytonian, El Terremoto, Sharp Response and Super Sam. All those were involved. But in what order, make up your own mind."

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There were no distances published, only a finishing order, and no official time taken. There was no stewards' inquiry. It was later revealed that a stipendiary steward positioned on the winning post had been employed to assist the judge in compiling the result.

Unsurprisingly there was an outcry on social media, with several people questioning whether the meeting should have been completed.

Poor visibility

"We saw it worsening after the Tommy Whittle and sent a stipendiary steward down to the winning post as a contingency," said clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright.

"It was the last race and there's always a desire to complete the card if you can, but we have to admit that had that worsened or been as bad as that at the time of the first race we could not have done so," he added.
The delay in announcing the result triggered a bizarre sequence of events, in which the public's first indication as to what had won was the jockeys sorting themselves as they entered the winners' enclosure. Shortly afterwards, the result was announced on the racecourse PA system.

Winning jockey Wedge admitted that visibility had been poor. "It was only when I saw the wings that I knew a hurdle was coming up," he said. "[Visibility] couldn't have been much more than 50 yards."

Remarkably, there were no fallers or unseats, the only horse not to complete being Lettheriverrundry who was pulled up down the back straight.

Visibility earlier in the day had been poor, down to just over a hundred yards before the first, but had receded for much of the day's racing.

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