Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Turf Club publish report into Bellewstown incident

Turf Club publish report into Bellewstown incident

The Turf Club today published the report into the incident at the start of the Seamus Mulvaney Crockafotha Handicap Hurdle on July 14th when the race was started without Warcraft.
 
The main conclusions from the report are as follows:

(i) The incident arose as a result of the starting procedures not being followed.  This was due to human error.
(ii) To reduce the possibility of a reoccurrence of the incident an additional procedure will now be put in place whereby the Starter will contact the Clerk of the Course before each race to confirm with him the number of runners that are at the start prior to each race starting.
(iii) While the information announced to the public prior to the start of the enquiry was vague, the Stewards main concern at that time was to ensure that no betting tickets were discarded prior to the outcome of the enquiry being determined.  The Turf Club will note the concerns subsequently raised regarding the lack of communication and will endeavour to include as much information, where possible, in future announcements prior to any enquiry commencing.

Commenting on the report, Turf Club Chief Executive, Denis Egan said that “the incident was most unfortunate and was due to human error.  The main thing to ensure is that a similar incident does not arise again which is why we have now introduced an additional check at the start.  We have also taken on board the issues which were raised with regard to communication and these will be addressed.”

Bellewstown – 4th July 2009

Result of investigation into the issues which led to the withdrawal of Warcraft

The Turf Club has investigated the circumstances surrounding the start of the Seamus Mulvaney Crockafotha Handicap Hurdle at Bellewstown on Saturday, 4th July 2009 and in particular why the race was started by the Turf Club Starter, Derek Cullen, when Warcraft, ridden by A.P. Heskin and trained by Michael Hourigan was not at the start.

The Stewards at Bellewstown held an enquiry into the matter and Warcraft was deemed withdrawn by order of the Stewards and was therefore a non-runner.  They had allowed the result of the race to stand.  They also referred the matter to the Turf Club for further investigation.

The purpose of the investigation was as follows:

i) To investigate why the incident arose and to examine if it could have been avoided.
ii) To examine whether additional procedures should be put in place to deal with a similar situation.
iii) To examine if any matters need to be addressed as a result of a perceived lack of communication with the racegoers on the night.

As part of the investigation, the various issues, which arose as a result of what occurred, were discussed with P.L. Malone, Clerk of the Course, Peter Matthews, Senior Stewards’ Secretary, Derek Cullen, Starter at Bellewstown, Joe Banahan, Senior Turf Club Starter, Josh Byrne Registrar INHS Committee and Vincent Hughes Integrity Support Officer.

1. Starting procedures
The incident arose as a result of the starting procedures not being followed by the Starter in that he did not count the horses at the start prior to the tape being released.  The Starter accepted full responsibility for the error.  The Starter did count the correct number of horses as they approached on the way down to the start but failed to notice that Warcraft’s jockey was in difficulty due to a slipped saddle.  The rider could not pull up the horse until approximately 3 furlongs past the starting post. He dismounted and proceeded to lead the horse back to the start.  The Starter who was at ground level was unable to see Warcraft as he had disappeared from view due to the undulations of the track.  Other officials at the track were aware that the horse was being led back to the start as these images appeared on the big screen and had assumed the starter was aware of this.  However, the problem would have been avoided if the Starter had counted the horses at the start to ensure that all were present prior to him starting the race.

2. Additional procedures
The current procedures have been in place for over 30 years and in that time almost one million horses have been started.  However, in view of what happened and so as to reduce further the likelihood of a similar incident arising in the future, Starters will now carry out a final count on runners at the start just before they mount the rostrum and confirm the number of runners at the start with the Clerk of the Course to ensure that all are present.

The possibility of introducing a roll call was considered but as there are other practical difficulties with this, it was decided not to introduce it at this time.

3. Communication
The Stewards were aware following the start of the race that one of the runners did not start.  When the race finished the Stewards called an enquiry immediately and asked that all betting dockets be held.  It was not possible for them to be more specific at that time as they did not know the reason why Warcraft did not take part and they did not want to mislead the public until they carried out a full enquiry. They wanted to be fair to all concerned and ensure that the betting public did not lose money in these unusual circumstances. Various rules were discussed before coming to their decision. When the result of the enquiry was announced (which took a considerable period of time because of the complexities involved), they explained the reasons why Warcraft was withdrawn and a non-runner.  The reason they dealt with the matter as they did rather than making a specific announcement was to ensure that no one discarded any betting ticket in case that the race had to be declared void.

Conclusions
(i) The incident arose as a result of the starting procedures not being followed.  This was due to human error.
(ii) To reduce the possibility of a reoccurrence of the incident an additional procedure will now be put in place whereby the Starter will contact the Clerk of the Course before each race to confirm with him the number of runners that are at the start prior to each race starting.
(iii) While the information announced to the public prior to the start of the enquiry was vague, the Stewards main concern at that time was to ensure that no betting tickets were discarded prior to the outcome of the enquiry being determined.  The Turf Club will note the concerns subsequently raised regarding the lack of communication and will endeavour to include as much information, where possible, in future announcements prior to any enquiry commencing.

 

 


Copyright © 2018, I.H.R.B, All Rights Reserved.