Cheltenham To Rethink Race Times After Dead Heat Caused By Poor Light


Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse has stated that the course are having a rethink about the start times to racing during the winter months after a dead heat was called for the second time in five years on Saturday due to bad light.

In the Listed Bumper on Saturday it saw Elle Est Belle and Ishkhara Lady both neck and neck in the finish and like many races a photo-finish was left to determine the winner of the event.

However, with the race going off at 15:55, the light had dropped around Cheltenham and when it came to looking at the photo-finish it was very blurry and not much could be seen between the horses.

This lead to the horses sharing the first spot with the judges not able to call the result and the Dan Skelton and Harry Fry trained horses were said to have finished in a dead-heat.

However, although blurry the decision left social media up in arms with many people being able to tell that on he near side, Ishkara Lady looked to have got up first and on the exchange the mare went into 1.01, while Elle Est Belle was matched at 90 in running.

A similar occurrence happened back in 2016 there was a dead-heat in the same race when Irish Roe and My Khaleesi could not be separated by the judge following a finish taking place in poor light and with it happening twice in five years, the course must now take action so it does not happen again.

(Credit Racing Post) Simon Claisse said: "We will certainly work with the BHA to minimise the risk of something like that happening again.

"All these times are programmed by the BHA to produce sensible gaps between races at different tracks. On Saturday we were well ahead of sunset time when scheduling a race at 3.55pm but it may be something we need to consider with the BHA for the future."

Asked whether the race times could be bought forward, the clerk said:"A number of factors have to be taken into account when we look at how we might minimise that risk.

"If we started a card earlier it might mean ITV ended up covering a bumper at the end of the card, which is not what they normally do – the bumper on Saturday was televised because ITV had airtime for a fifth race.

"You can start meetings with a bumper, but you have to bear in mind we have a low sun problem at Cheltenham, and when you have a bumper to finish a card you don't run the risk of having to miss out obstacles.

"We also need to be careful if putting in hurdles after first running a bumper because we could jeopardise the set-up of the racecourse if there was a lot of rain."