‘Wrong horse’ drama at Yarmouth
Controversy reigned at Yarmouth when it was discovered that the Charlie McBride-trained Mandarin Princess, winner of the opening two-year-old race, was in fact stablemate Millie's Kiss.
Millie's Kiss, a three-year-old with plenty of racecourse experience, was due to run in the nine-furlong handicap later on the card but was subsequently withdrawn.
A report issued by the British Horseracing Authority: "The stewards held an inquiry to consider the circumstances surrounding the identification of the winner, Mandarin Princess, trained by Philip (Charlie) McBride, which was presented at the sampling unit for routine testing.
"The scan identified the horse to be Millie's Kiss, the trainer's other runner in race four.
"They interviewed the trainer, the stable groom, the veterinary officer and the equine welfare integrity officer responsible for the sampling unit.
"Having heard their evidence they referred the matter to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority and ordered Millie's Kiss to be withdrawn from race four."
Bookmakers Sky Bet confirmed shortly after the news broke that they would pay out on odds-on runner-up Fyre Cay, as well as the first horse past the post.
Spokesman Michael Shinners said: "This is a bizarre, virtually unprecedented incident and punters who backed the second have every right to feel hard done by.
"We feel they deserve to be paid out, so that's what we're doing.
"However, anyone backing the 'winner' did so in good faith, too, so they'll also be paid out."
Despite the wrong horse having won the race, the result is set to stand – for the time being.
Stipendiary steward Tony McGlone told At The Races: "As all horses are, they are brought into the stables and they are scanned and are allocated into their boxes.
"These two horses, trained by Charlie McBride, were given a box each.
"Mr McBride went over to the weighing room to collect the saddle and was slightly delayed collecting it. He rushed over.
"The stable girl had taken the horse out of the stables and put it in the saddling boxes. Mr McBride put the saddle on, the horse ran, it won.
"We then sent the horse for routine testing as per normal.
"The integrity officer scanned the horse and found it to be the wrong horse. We have referred it to the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.
"I think the BHA have got 14 days to lodge an objection to the winner. We'll obviously send a report from here and they will look into the matter."
The BHA issued the following statement: "The incident at Great Yarmouth has been referred to the BHA's head office in order that we can carry out an investigation, in accordance with our rules.
"Since we introduced the microchipping identification system an incident such as this is, as far as we are aware, unprecedented.
"The issue had not been established until after the result had been made official. After the weighed in has been declared on the racecourse, the result cannot be amended by the stewards.
"The responsibility lies with the trainer to present and run the correct horse in the race. Having said that, and while we have not seen an incident of this nature in recent times, we will of course determine what steps need to be put in place to prevent it from happening again.
"We sympathise with the betting operators and betting public who have potentially been affected by this incident."Instances such as this are extremely rare but one such case was at Southwell in January 1996.In a case of mistaken identity, Loch Style, trained by Reg Hollinshead, ran in the name of Taniyar in the Waterford Median Auction Stakes.Loch Style had been entered to run later at the meeting but he was saddled up and sent out for the earlier race instead of his stablemate and finished seventh.Hollinshead did not realise a mistake had been made until the horse was taken into the unsaddling enclosure after the race.
Connections of Millie's Kiss expressed their sympathy for Newmarket-based McBride. John Mear, a member of the Four Winds Racing Partnership that own the three-year-old, told Press Association Sport: "We are all shocked and desperately upset for Charlie.
"It's nothing untoward. He's just made a genuine mistake. He must be absolutely heartbroken.
"When we found out Millie's Kiss had been withdrawn, we could never imagine something like this could have happened."
John Egan, who rode the 'winner' believes the stewards should have declared the race void. He said: "At the end of the day, we're all human. Mistakes happen. I feel most sorry for Charlie."
"We'll all get over it. It's one race, one horse, one day.
"I'm surprised on the day the stewards didn't make the race void or disqualify the winner.
"It was the wrong horse in the wrong race and a very simple calculation." McBride was not available for comment when contacted by Press Association Sport.