Confusion reigns as wrong horse is withdrawn at Nottingham

Wed 3 Oct 2018

There was confusion at Nottingham on Wednesday after Magic Pulse was withdrawn in error before the KFE Leaders In Frying Excellence Handicap.

The confusion revolved around Operative, who went down in the stalls, unshipped Silvestre de Sousa, and was subsequently declared a non-runner.

However, Magic Pulse was wrongly announced a non-runner on course and consequently was not allowed to take her chance in what was the Jockey Club Grassroots Sprint Distance Series Final.

Operative was in stall 11, while Magic Pulse, one of more than 20 horses owned by Craig Buckingham, was to have raced from stall five.

Magic Pulse’s trainer, David Griffiths, said: “The horse in stall 11 (Operative) went mad and a couple of minutes later they called Magic Pulse a non-runner. She wasn’t even in the stalls when it happened.

“Someone realised what had gone on and they called Operative a non-runner and re-instated Magic Pulse. That was in the space of about four minutes. Then, minutes later, they said Magic Pulse was a non-runner, but she hadn’t even gone near the stalls.

“The reason the inquiry gave was that because she had been a non-runner for about four minutes, they couldn’t risk her being a runner as it had been all over the TVs and laptops. I don’t understand completely why, but the fact is it shouldn’t have happened.”

Griffiths added: “The starter called the wrong horse, but you can’t blame one person.

“If there is any compensation due it will go straight to Racing Welfare. It’s not about that, it’s about ‘how could it happen’?”

Trainers Micky Hammond and Dan Skelton, who both train horses owned by Buckingham, later took to social media to express how upset he was by events.

A British Horseracing Authority stewards’ report read: “An enquiry was held to consider the circumstances which led to Magic Pulse being withdrawn in error by the starter, when it was intended to be Operative, after it was unruly in the stalls.

“A subsequent correction announcement was made on course, confirming the withdrawal of Operative and after due consideration the stewards adjudged that the withdrawal of Magic Pulse, although made in error, should stand and announcements were made to that effect.

“They interviewed the starters, the clerk of the scales, the race-day presenter and the stipendiary steward acting as a witness.

“Having heard their evidence, they ordered a report to be forwarded to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority for further consideration.”

Brant Dunshea, the BHA chief regulatory officer, said in a statement: “It goes without saying that the entire team are disappointed that Magic Pulse was withdrawn in error.

“We are acutely aware of the impact that an incident of human error like this can have, not least on the connections of the horse.

“We will take a full and frank look into what happened before determining what steps we will now take.”

After a delay of 16 minutes, the £25,000 contest went to Belated Breath (7-2 joint-favourite), who ran out a narrow winner to be the middle leg of a treble for jockey Oisin Murphy.

Hughie Morrison’s three-year-old filly was a neck too good for Case Key with Saaheq three-quarters of a length away third.

Murphy was also successful aboard the William Haggas-trained True Hero (4-1) and Ed Walker’s Maygold (8-1).

Despite parting company with Operative, De Sousa still managed a double double on the afternoon through Vivid Diamond (4-1) and Lyrica’s Lion (2-1 favourite), trained by Mark Johnston and Sheena West respectively.

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