Void race drama at Epsom
Last Updated: 26/08/14 12:00pm
Jockeys in the totepool Supporting The Sport You Love Handicap at Epsom escaped punishment despite the runners completing the full five furlongs after a false start had been called.
The riders appeared not to notice the flag man on the track and the race carried on, with the George Baker-trained Humidor passing the post first in the hands of James Doyle, in a race worth £25,000.
A stewards' inquiry was immediately called, which resulted in the race being voided.
The stewards interviewed Doyle and fellow riders Ryan Moore, Sam James, Paul Hanagan, David Probert, Kieran O'Neill, Daniel Muscutt and Martin Lane.
The officials found that O'Neill's mount Taurus Twins had anticipated the start, breaking open its gate and beginning the race in advance of the others. A false start was immediately called and it was reported that the advance flag operator "initially took several steps to his right" before waving the recall flag.
The riders said the advance flag operator was out of their line of sight having moved to his right, particularly in the poor visibility conditions, and because of this continued on in the race.
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Evidence was taken from the advance flag man, who confirmed he had moved several steps to his right prior to waving his flag and that he had not blown his whistle as required.
As the operating procedures were not followed by the advance flag operator, the stewards decided that no action would be taken against the riders. A report was forwarded to the British Horseracing Authority.
A number of bookmakers announced they would pay out on Humidor and refund all losing bets.
Baker was at Chepstow, but said he was unhappy with the start from what he had been told by his team at Epsom.
He said: "I am delighted with the horse, but obviously very disappointed with the result.
"It would have been the first time Humidor had won in almost three years, it was a massive day for that horse and his owners.
"I'm the most laid-back guy in the world and I don't want to be seen to be jumping up and down, but my team have worked incredibly hard with the horse at home to try and win a race with him and there is nil recourse for compensation.
"The one bright side, if there is one, is that the horse thinks he's won his first race for the first time in three years, so hopefully it will do his confidence good.
"We'll take it as far as we can, I suspect that won't be very far, but I'll talk to the BHA in the morning."
Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the BHA, told Racing UK: "Once the starter had satisfied himself that Taurus Twins had lunged forward and broken the gates, he then immediately raised his false start flag, signalling to the advanced flag operator to do the same.
"The advanced flag operator then stepped three or four steps to his right, prior to raising his flag. He did raise his flag, so the recall flag has been raised.
"It's academic. The rules are very clear. The race must be void in those circumstances.
"Subsequently, the stewards held an inquiry into the riders' actions continuing on in the race and they ultimately decided no penalties will be issued in the circumstances of this case.
"In arriving at that decision they listened to the riders and given it's a straight five-furlong race, they went to the outside rail, so they were focussed on that, and the advanced flag operator went to the inside. They (jockeys) say in the rain he was out of their vision.
"Equally importantly the operating procedures say the advanced flag operator must blow his whistle at the same time as raising his flag and that didn't occur on this occasion.
"Each case has to be considered on its merits."
Sky Bet paid out on the 'winner' Humidor (11/4) and the each-way money on the 'placed horses' Come On Dave (5/1) and Taurus Twins (16/1), while voiding all other bets in the race.