By Racinguk.com staff
The British Horseracing Authority have vowed to bolster the identification of racehorses after trainer Ivan Furtado was forced to face a disciplinary panel hearing next week due to running the wrong horses in two races at Southwell earlier this month.
The horses, African Trader and Scribner Creek, both ran on January 14 in the incorrect races, despite new scanning procedures brought into place following the Millie's Kiss episode at Yarmouth in the summer. Both horses were having their first runs for Furtado.
Scribner Creek, rated 63, ran in the 3.25pm race, for which African Trader (rated 57) had been declared, and came third. African Trader ran in the 3.55pm race, which should have featured Scribner Creek, dead-heating for seventh of 10.
The latter was routinely tested and the British Horseracing Authority said the mistake showed up the following day through an audit process which reconciles raceday sampling information collected via a new IT-based collection system.
The BHA's view is that the horses became mixed up prior to arriving at the course and there was no deliberate attempt to conceal their identities, but as it is the trainer's responsibility to ensure horses run in the correct race, the disciplinary panel will determine what, if any, action should be taken.
A statement said: "The BHA's position before the panel will be that the horses' identities had been accidentally confused prior to arrival at the racecourse and there was no deliberate attempt to conceal their identities.
"However, the BHA has overall responsibility for the running of a raceday, and what is clearly of greatest concern in this case is the question of why this happened, how it was allowed to happen and what can be done to ensure that it does not happen again.
"This is the second time in six months where there has been an incident in which an incorrect horse has competed in a race. This is simply unacceptable; it affects the betting public, bookmakers and other participants and risks undermining confidence in the integrity of the sport.
"The fact that the horses were not correctly identified on the racecourse was as a result of human error and not a technological fault. Where appropriate, steps are being taken internally to address the performance-related issues that arise from these errors."
In July, Newmarket-based handler Charlie McBride sent out the 'wrong' horse to victory at Yarmouth.
McBride thought he had saddled 50-1 shot Mandarin Princess to win the opening two-year-old race at the Norfolk circuit, only for it to emerge it was year-older stablemate Millie's Kiss who passed the post in first place. He was fined £1,500.
The BHA statement went on: "Further, the BHA is now going to take measures to improve the robustness of the identification processes and reduce the risk of human error. This will take the form of enhancements to the identification technology to ensure that the scanning device links the identity of the horse being scanned out to the racecard for the race it is being scanned out for.
"This will ensure that if the wrong horse is brought out to be saddled an alert will prevent this from occurring. The BHA expects to roll out this enhancement in March.
"The BHA will also consider implementing a further measure ahead of the roll out of this technological enhancement of ensuring all placed horses are scanned prior to weighing in.
"The extra step of scanning horses before they enter to the saddling enclosure was put in place as an interim measure to improve the robustness of the identification process following the incident at Great Yarmouth in July.
"Clearly this was not sufficient to prevent the issue occurring again, hence the importance of this further action."
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