Racing: Dead-heat dithering reviewed

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The Independent Online
RACECOURSE Technical Services yesterday blamed building works and printing difficulties for the delay in announcing the result of the first race at Newbury on Saturday. Confirmation of a dead- heat between Peto and Adam Smith came 40 minutes after the race and provoked consternation among bookmakers and punters on the busiest betting day of the week, writes Paul Hayward.

'We've had a report on the incident and it appears that the judge (Michael Hancock) required three prints of the photo-finish before it was exactly as he wanted it,' Mike Stockdale of RTS said. 'He was very, very careful to get it right.'

When a racecourse judge is unable to determine a result from the photo-finish strip a print, or enlargement, is called for and a white line transposed to correspond with the winning line. 'Normally the result wouldn't be delayed until after the next race,' Stockdale said, 'but because of the construction work at Newbury the route between the photo-finish booth and the judge's box was long and inconvenient.

'The process accumulated and the third and final print was ready just before the following race. However the operator couldn't leave his post because he had to prepare for the next event. It's not something that is expected to happen again.'

The problem with such protracted decision making is that it causes punters to delay betting until the result is known, thus depressing turnover both on and off- course.