2pm Wrong result fiasco returns to blight sport
The sport of racing has been embarrassed at Sandown on Friday by the latest example of a photo-finish result being incorrectly decided, by a racecourse judge with a history of making such mistakes. Rio Ronaldo was initially called as the winner of the opening sprint but, after bookmakers had begun to pay out, an announcement was made to the effect that Vibrant Chords was actually the winner, following further scrutiny of the photo-finish print.
The judge who blundered is Felix Wheeler, who made a similar mistake at Kempton in March that was not discovered for several days. That led to the introduction this week of a new system of double-checking results and the initial suggestion from officials is that the new system is the reason Wheeler’s latest error was caught within minutes, rather than at some point next week.
It is believed that Wheeler was also the judge responsible for a similar mistake in December 2015, when The Blue Bomber was wrongly called the winner over Quarenta at Lingfield.
Friday’s best bets, by Chris Cook
Sandown is going to be baking for the fixtures the London track stages on Friday and Saturday. Temperatures are due to peak at 28C on both days and Andrew Cooper, the clerk of the course, says he has never known such a prolonged dry and hot spell since he started doing the job in 1990.
“We had basically no rainfall in June,” he told me. “We’ve had months in the past when we might only have had 6mm or something like that. The last meaningful rain we saw was during Derby week.”
Cooper and his team have been putting down 35mm of water every week just to keep the ground from getting any faster, which is an expensive business. He reports the going as good to firm, good in places on the sprint course and adds that he has been putting plenty of water on the tight bend out of the back straight to ensure runners can get some purchase.
After the Eclipse crowds have left on Saturday, Cooper would really like to see some rain turning up in the forecast. “Crikey, you’d take anything,” he said. “Everything will benefit from it. We could do with a double-figure amount of rain at least.” But there is no immediate sign of same.
Instinctively as a punter, I find myself looking for fast-ground horses with a turn of foot. You’d imagine that would be the only way to go after a month of such weather. But this morning on my Twitter timeline there’s a hard-working analyst suggesting the race-times at Newmarket last weekend equated to good to soft going, so it’s always worth having a look at the early races and the times they’re run in before taking a view.
It so happens that my nap on Friday is still waiting for his first win on turf, having scored three times out of four on the all-weather. But I think fast turf is fine for Melting Dew (4.05), a progressive Sir Michael Stoute four-year-old who’s a 7-2 shot for the 10-furlong handicap.
He was game at Chelmsford last time, his second run of the year, and it looks like the drop back to this trip has been helpful. He’s still on a winning mark if able to show his best form here, with Ryan Moore riding him for the first time this year.
Earlier, a drop back in trip might also be good news for Barbill (1.50), a speedy Mick Channon juvenile who faded in the final furlong of the Coventry when last seen. He won easily despite a slow start over five furlongs at Bath on his debut and I hope to see some of that raw speed here. He’s overlooked at 8-1 in a small field.
David Pipe has had a couple of recent winners and I’ll take a chance on his It’s Obvious (4.30) at Newton Abbot. He was fancied for a similar race there last month but fared poorly on his first run back from wind surgery. At 12-1, I’ll take a chance that he’ll be sharper this time, though it could be that the grey is going to need a slower surface.