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Great Leighs blames self-certification

THE self-certification rule is being blamed by Great Leighs for a significant increase in non-runners in sprints, which has seen punters robbed of each-way betting opportunities several times since the track opened in April.

Figures from last week's three-day meeting show a developing trend of horses drawn high in 5f and 6f races being withdrawn, a statistic that suggests connections feel a high draw in sprints is a disadvantage.

The last quartet of 5f and 6f races that consisted of ten or more runners at the track produced ten withdrawals, eight of whom were drawnin double-figure stalls.

However, Pippa Cuckson, head of communication at Great Leighs, feels that Britain's newest track, which has staged 17 meetings so far, is powerless to prevent such withdrawals because of the self-certification system, which was introduced at the start of the Flat turf season by the BHA.

"We've had quite a few meetings now, so people have had plenty of time to work out what they think is a disadvantageous draw, and, given there is now a mechanismto withdraw after the draw is known, there isn't really a great deal we can do about it," she said.                           

"I can understand people thinking that being drawn wide is a disadvantage over the five furlongs, because the start is quite close to the bend, but the six furlongs isa bit more of a head-scratcher, as they have the whole of the back straight to sort themselves out."

Despite the regularity with which those horses drawn widest in the sprints have been withdrawn, Great Leighs has no immediate plans to reduce maximum field sizes.

Cuckson added: "Reducing the safety limit would seem like an obvious thing to do, but I think it would be down to the BHA to tell us, given we designed the track based on their guidelines.

"It's an unavoidable situation given the trackconfiguration. It's a simple matter of geometry because of our wide, sweeping bends.

"But at this stage it's not even something we're contemplating, because we don't have any firm evidence of a problem."


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