The most valuable afternoon in the history of Nottingham racecourse suffered a farcical mishap on Wednesday which left an owner threatening to quit the sport after his horse was wrongly withdrawn from a £25,000 race shortly before the start.

Operative, from the Ed de Giles yard, was unruly in the stalls before the six-furlong sprint at 3.35 and withdrawn from the 16-strong field. But the racecourse PA system mistakenly announced it was the filly Magic Pulse, a 12-1 chance trained by David Griffiths, which had been withdrawn.

The mistake was quickly corrected in a further announcement which seemed to suggest that Magic Pulse had been restored to the field. A third announcement then confirmed that, by order of the stewards, Magic Pulse had also been removed from the race, which was won by Belated Breath from the Hughie Morrison stable.

Magic Pulse was a live contender for the contest on Wednesday as she arrived in winning form, having won on her last start at Chelmsford City in August. She was drawn in stall five and was No 9 on the racecard. Operative was drawn six stalls away in 11 and No 17 on the card.

Craig Buckingham, the owner of Magic Pulse, was understandably upset after the incident and perplexed that it had not been possible to correct the initial identification error.

“I’ve taken the day off to come and see the horse at my local track,” Buckingham told the Racing Post. “We were very excited to see her run and, due to an administrative error that for some reason can’t be corrected, my horse can’t run [through] no fault of her own.

“She wasn’t even in the stalls. The starter made a mistake. Fine, we accept that, everyone makes mistakes, but someone up here should have the balls to say it’s a mistake.

“They’ve corrected it over the PA, yet they’ve still withdrawn it. Where is the care for the owners in racing? I’m beginning to think nobody [cares] and I’ll be going home tonight and will be considering what I do with the rest of my horses. I’ve 23 in total on the Flat and over jumps.”

Buckingham’s string includes Shamrokh, trained by Michael Appleby and the winner of two races and £15,116 in total prize money in 2018, in addition to horses trained by Griffiths, Marjorie Fife, Tony Coyle and Kevin Ryan.

The initial error arose after the starter wrongly reported to the clerk of the scales that the racecard number of the horse to be withdrawn was nine, rather than 17. This was then passed on to the racecourse announcer.

An inquiry into the incident was delayed until after the last of the eight races on the card. The stewards later reported that “after due consideration” it had been decided that, while the announcement of Magic Pulse’s withdrawal had been made in error, it should stand.

The panel heard evidence from the starter, the clerk of the scales, the announcer and the stipendiary steward. They also ordered that a report on the incident should be forwarded to the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.

Errors involved the incorrect identification of horses have occurred with some frequency in the UK over the past 18 months. Two horses trained by Ivan Furtado ran in the wrong races at Southwell in January, while there was a similar incident at Yarmouth in July 2017 involving two horses from Philip McBride’s yard.

 

 

 

www.theguardian.com