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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Get right equipment or don't race: trainer Tom Lacey enters dead-heat debate

The official photo-finish print involving Royal Village (near side) and Whoshotwho at Market Rasen
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Trainer Tom Lacey has joined the debate over the controversial dead-heat decision at Market Rasen on Saturday by suggesting no racecourse should be allowed to stage racing if it does not have the equipment to supply the correct result.

Nick Bostock, the senior racecourse judge on duty at the Lincolnshire track, had no mirror image available to him, so because the head of Royal Village almost totally obscured that of Whoshotwho the judge felt he had no option other than to declare a dead-heat.

Connections of Royal Village were unhappy with the result, believing their horse had won, and have asked the BHA to review it.

The problem at Market Rasen, which is owned by Jockey Club Racecourses, arose from the track not having access to an in-field camera that costs around £25,000.

Tom Lacey: "They can book Paloma Faith but can't invest in a camera"

Lacey said: “It’s a poor state of affairs when a track cannot find £25,000. The result of a race is one of the fundamentals of the sport. Trainers aren’t given their licence unless they have access to a gallop.

“Don’t tell me that Jockey Club Racecourses can’t find £25,000 for an extra camera at Market Rasen.

“We all begrudgingly have to put up with bands after racing during the summer. They can book Paloma Faith at great expense but they can’t invest in a camera.”

The trainer, who enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last season, and has a host of exciting jumpers to look forward to this winter, added: “There have been several instances of problems with photo-finishes over the past year or so – owing to human error.

Watch the 4.25 at Market Rasen on Saturday

“Anyone can make a mistake. We’re all human. But this is totally different. This is down to the lack of technological equipment. Without being flippant, £25,000 isn’t a great sum of money for a racecourse to find.

“Owners are investing big amounts in horses – putting lots of money into the sport – and yet the technological equipment isn’t there to give the right answer. It’s poor.

“No racecourse should be permitted to stage racing if it doesn’t have or can’t afford the equipment to supply the correct result.”

In response to the trainer's comments, a spokesperson for Jockey Club Racecourses said: “Market Rasen is fully compliant with its BHA licence to race. The licence requirements have always been a matter for the British Horseracing Authority.

“As the racecourse does not administer the photo-finish the idea of installing an in-field camera at the course to aid with a dead-heat has never been discussed.

Royal Village (centre) who went on to dead-heat with Whoshotwho (left) at Market Rasen

“As part of Jockey Club Racecourses, every penny of profit made at Market Rasen, including from our two music nights, gets invested back into British racing through things such as record levels of prize- money investment.”

Bostock did not have a mirror image to use at Market Rasen because of the sheer width of the two tracks.

Haydock, with multiple jump and Flat courses, has solved the problem with a second camera situated on the inside of the course.

According to a BHA statement, “the issue of mirrors is not confined to Market Rasen, which is one of a number of racecourses where the width of the finishing line, dependent on the rail position, is too great for the mirror system to cover the entirety of the line”.

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Don’t tell me that Jockey Club Racecourses can’t find £25,000 for an extra camera at Market Rasen
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