Result reversed after Sandown finish is called from photo at wrong winning post
An incorrect result was announced for the £75,000 EBF Final at Sandown on Saturday after the judge based his decision on a photo-finish taken at the wrong winning post, prompting outrage from bookmakers who paid out on both results.
The 2m4f race, televised live on ITV4, finished at the second of two winning lines which Sandown uses for hurdles and chases, but the judge Paul Champion was given a picture by the photo-finish operator taken at the first winning post and mistakenly called One For Rosie the winner by a neck.
After a lengthy delay the result was revised and Third Wind was called the winner before the weighed-in signal, which is the official sign that bets can be settled.
However, some punters had already collected their winnings from on-course bookmakers, while all major off-course firms paid out on both horses.
While a confidential report has been forwarded to the BHA headquarters in London for further investigation, the blunder was attributed to human error by Racetech operatives.
Will Hudson, the stipendiary steward, said: "The race concluded and the judge called the result. He called it on the photo provided to him on the first winning line.
"Following that, the procedure is to send it to the stewards and I was provided with the same photo and the result was verified. After that it was established it was not the right image.
"The photo-finish operator Racetech has two cameras which are meant to be focused on the same winning line. In this instance one camera was on each winning line.
"We were able to see the incorrect result had been called and asked the judge to revisit the image and he was in the process of acknowledging the error. The weighed-in was prevented and the correct result announced and the weighed-in verified."
This is the second time in a year the wrong result has been called at Sandown after Rio Ronaldo was announced the winner in a 5f handicap on the separate sprint course in July, before the result was changed with Vibrant Chords handed victory.
The judge lost his job over that mistake after an earlier blunder at Kempton in March, with the incidents prompting the BHA to review official handling of photo-finishes.
New protocols have been introduced involving a stipendiary steward verifying the finishing order before the weighed-in announcement is made and the result becomes official.
Claiming the BHA were not at fault and that the protocols had worked, Hudson added: "We’re aware of the wider implications to the bookmakers and betting public and public on course and I apologise for that.
"It was human error with two cameras on different winning lines. The photo-finish operators should have checked with each other and they didn’t, but I would like to emphasise the cameras and the set-up is no responsibility of the BHA judge; they rely on the operators to make sure it’s correct.
"We could have noticed it sooner. I don’t have an image and a replay in front of me simultaneously. The fail-safe system has worked. It did not work immediately but it was sorted before the weighed-in.
"While it's disappointing it happened, I acknowledge that the correction was spotted and made before the weighed-in. I’m satisfied it did work as it prevented the wrong weighed-in. It’s bookmakers’ prerogative if they pay out before the weighed-in."
A Racetech spokesperson confirmed the integrity service provider would be "co-operating fully with any BHA inquiry".
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of One For Rosie, said: "It's very depressing but mistakes happen. You wouldn't believe it but I have made a mistake before. It's a great shame, but we’ve still got a lovely horse."
Third Wind's trainer Hughie Morrison said: "Nigel was extremely good and very philosophical. We had all accepted a dead-heat. A professional punter came up to us in the winner's enclosure and told us they'd got the winning post wrong.
"We didn't know if we'd got up on the second line, but it looked to the naked eye like we did. It's not the way you want to win a race, but the horse probably deserved it because he hated the ground all the way around."
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