Additional checks now in place for Sandown Park’s photo-finish arrangements

18 Apr 2019 BHA Features Racecourse

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced that changes have been made to the photo finish arrangements at Sandown Park.

This follows a BHA investigation into the incorrect result initially being given for the 1.50pm race at the track on Saturday 9 March when the Judge was inadvertently handed an image of the wrong finish line.

The changes are designed to minimise the risk of such an incident re-occurring and to ensure that the processes for calling the results of photo-finishes in Jumps races at Sandown are as robust and secure as they can be.

Following a report compiled by the BHA’s Racecourse Operations team, several recommendations have been made to both the procedure for calling a photo-finish and to the physical winning posts at Sandown:

– An additional check will take place between the BHA Judge and the Racetech Photo Finish Operator (PFO) to confirm that the cameras are aligned to the correct winning line in use before every race, in addition to the pre-racing check carried out by the PFO

– Further steps will be taken to ensure that the winning posts and the movable winning post top are as distinguishable as they can be by adapting their current design

The change to the current design of the winning post will be the addition of an identifying band of luminous paint of different colour for the respective chase and hurdle course winning posts. The “lollipop” at the top of the wining post will continue to be moved between courses to denote the finish being used for the next race but has been re-designed so both riders and the public/media can see as clearly as possible which winning post is in use.

These changes have been implemented ahead of the final meeting of Sandown’s Jump season this weekend. Several other options were also explored as part of the report including the feasibility of having only one winning line for Jump racing.

Explaining the continued requirement for the two winning lines at Sandown, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course Andrew Cooper said:

“Having surveyed the relevant distances, it transpires that to utilise the hurdle finish line for all Jump races at Sandown Park would introduce a stands-side bias of 3.3 metres for the chase run-in – the equivalent of about one length. It was agreed by all parties involved in the discussion that this was too great a distance to countenance a change, as it compromised the overriding principle of providing ‘fair’ racing.”

Emma Marley, Head of Racecourse Operations at the BHA, said:

“We have taken positive steps to ensure that the risk of an incident such as this occurring again have been minimized.

“The additional pre-race confirmation between the Judge and Photo Finish Operator, as well as the visual changes to the winning post, should ensure it is as clear as it can be to everyone which finishing post is in use.”

John Bozza, CEO at Racetech said:

“RaceTech have fully supported the BHA during their comprehensive review of the photo finish incident at Sandown Park and have been pleased to contribute to the outcomes described.”

Notes to editors:

The BHA’s statement regarding the result of the 1.50pm at Sandown on Saturday 9 March can be viewed here.