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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Judge stood down after wrong result as BHA comes under fire

Lingfield: the course where the controversial finish took place
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The judge who called the placings wrong at Lingfield on Wednesday has been stood down by the BHA, which has come under fresh attack for declining to offer compensation to punters and bookmakers.

The incident, in which the positions of the third- and fourth-placed horses in the 7f nursery were reversed after judge Graham Ford incorrectly declared the result, meant those who backed Elementary, the horse initially and incorrectly placed third, were paid out on each-way bets, while those who had backed Sun Angel, the actual third who was originally placed fourth, were not.

Some bookmakers, including William Hill, paid out on both horses but were under no obligation to do so under the Tattersalls Committee rules on betting, and their decision was labelled a "commercial" one by the BHA.

BHA head of media Robin Mounsey said: "First, we wish to apologise to racegoers, bettors and bookmakers for an error in judging the 2.55pm race at Lingfield on Wednesday that led to the reversal of the third- and fourth-placed horses after the result had been declared for betting purposes.

"We take the matter very seriously and a full investigation is under way to understand the circumstances that led to the judge’s initial error and to mitigate the risk of this happening in future.

"In the meantime, and pending completion of our investigation, the BHA can confirm that the judge concerned, Graham Ford, will not carry out the role of judge during this period."

He added: "We accept that an error was made and acknowledge that the incident created confusion and frustration for both punters and bookmakers. It is a commercial decision for bookmakers if they wish to pay out on the amended result."

On Wednesday Jon Ivan-Duke of William Hill queried why bookmakers should bear the brunt for the judge's error, and he followed it up on Friday by saying: "The BHA are absolutely right that it is a commercial decision for bookmakers to pay out on the amended result, but that is because we value our customers.

"What the BHA are saying is that they do not value their stakeholders. If you're a punter, the organisation which runs racing does not care if they make a mistake and you lose out. It is everyday punters who are suffering and/or bookmakers shouldering additional costs and the BHA just shrug their shoulders. It's just not good enough."

Lingfield was the scene of another photo-finish calamity a year ago when The Blue Bomber, judged the winner of a bumper, was demoted the following week.

That mistake was attributed to bad light blurring the image, prompting the BHA to investigate ways to improve it, promising at the time to find "a reasonable solution as soon as possible".

On Friday the BHA said it had yet to identify a solution but had trialled measures including enhanced lighting at the finish line, which was not in place on Wednesday as it was deemed not necessary, and an alternative camera lens.

The racing authority stressed that Wednesday's incident was unrelated to last year's.

Ford will be able to continue in his principal role as clerk of the scales while an investigation takes place.

Pending completion of our investigation, the BHA can confirm that the judge concerned, Graham Ford, will not carry out the role of judge during this period

Key data

Lingfield (A.W)
E.W. Terms
Sky bet