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Sectional timing firm apologises after publishing 'inaccurate' Irish Derby data

Westover: bolted up in last month's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby by seven lengths
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The first official sectional timing data recorded for an Irish Classic has been found to be inaccurate, with tracking technology firm Coursetrack issuing an apology over errors in its data for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

It was suggested by At The Races's sectional times specialist Simon Rowlands that some of the figures released were "manifestly inaccurate" in the aftermath of last weekend's trials at the Curragh.

Official sectional data suggests there were ten lengths between the leader French Claim and Boundless Ocean in last with three furlongs left to run, but Rowlands says video evidence shows just six and a half lengths between the pair.

A spokesperson for Coursetrack said: "There are still technical integration elements that need to be completed and some inaccurate data was published for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby for one furlong's worth of data, for which we apologise.

"It was Coursetrack's first deployment on the Derby course itself and continued testing will ensure these inaccuracies don’t occur when it is ready to be rolled out in full.

"The Irish Derby festival was part of the phased roll-out of the system. The thorough testing process to ensure reliable, accurate and low-latency data has been key to Coursetrack's success on the 34 UK racecourses where it is currently deployed."

Westover: provided Colin Keane and Ralph Beckett with their first wins in the Irish Derby

Curragh chief executive Brian Kavanagh told the Racing Post he would discuss the Irish Derby error with Coursetrack officials next week.

Irish racing had been promised sectional timing technology at every course from January 2017 when SIS was awarded the rights to implement the service, but the project had seen little progress in five years prior to Coursetrack, Racecourse Media Group's timing partner, working on the initiative.

The Racing Post understands that roughly half of Irish tracks will partake in Coursetrack's sectional trials, with each course expected to fund the operating costs of between €1,000 to €1,500 per meeting.

Speed-sensing equipment will be in use for upcoming meetings at Roscommon (5 July), Fairyhouse (6 July), Leopardstown (7 July), Navan (9 July), Fairyhouse (10 July), Dundalk (12 July), Downpatrick (13 July), Leopardstown (14 July) and the Curragh (16 and 17 July).

Rowlands has also questioned the distance of the Irish Derby, writing that Google Earth suggests the race "may be nearly half a furlong further than advertised".

There have been examples of Irish races being run over incorrect distances, including at Down Royal in 2019 when it appeared all seven runners broke the track record in the Listed Her Majesty's Plate. However, the race was actually run over a significantly shorter distance than advertised.

The 2021 Savills Chase at Tramore, won by Al Boum Photo, was also said to be run over a longer distance than had been advertised.

But Kavanagh and the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board are adamant the Irish Derby was run over the correct distance of a mile and a half.

"The clerk of the course and our racecourse manager measure the track with the wheel before every meeting – there's no issue there," said Kavanagh.

Brian Kavanagh: "I'm more than happy it was run over the correct distance"

"I'm more than happy it was run over the correct distance."

An IHRB spokesperson added: "At a track like the Curragh, you cannot determine the racing line by using Google Earth.

"We are very satisfied with the distances at the Curragh over the weekend. The track would be measured after the movement of rail for fresh ground on Friday and Saturday, as was advertised. The rail, or the starting position, moves so that the distance is right."

There are no plans for Irish racecourses to be independently surveyed, as was the case with British tracks in 2017.

The IHRB spokesperson continued: "The Curragh can race on the near side, up the middle or on the far side. Even two different meetings on the far side could have different rail alignments.

"Two different meetings over the Derby course could also have a different racing line to provide fresh ground, which we do at the majority of Irish race meetings.

"All this rail alignment is in a move to protect the track and provide the best racing surface."

Read these next . . .

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'An important addition' – Curragh chief welcomes sectional timing trial at track

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Continued testing will ensure these inaccuracies don’t occur when it is ready to be rolled out in full
E.W. Terms