Robin Dickin said he felt “robbed” after being told Oneida Tribe had actually won at Bangor last week, rather than dead-heating, and yet would still count as a loser. The horse was reckoned to have got in his rival’s way on the run-in and, after discussing the case for a second time in light of the revised outcome, the stewards insisted Oneida Tribe should be placed second.
“What a tease,” said Dickin, who had been left on tenterhooks by a phone call from racing’s ruling body on Monday telling him the photo-finish verdict had been changed. Michael Roberts, an inexperienced judge who joined the British Horseracing Authority only last summer, decided on Thursday he should call a dead heat because the nose of Pinch Of Ginger was hidden in the photo print behind Oneida Tribe’s head.
Roberts also called a dead heat for third place in another race on the same day, for a similar reason. A BHA statement on Tuesday conceded the two horses in each case could be separated. While Pinch Of Ginger’s nose could not be seen in the print, his jaw and lips were visible in a position allowing for the inference his nose must be behind that of Oneida Tribe.
Dickin spent some hours on Tuesday waiting to learn whether the Bangor stewards would change their minds about the rightful outcome, knowing his horse had passed the post in front. Having been disappointed for a second time, he will now take the rest of the week to consider an appeal.
“It’s quite extraordinary, isn’t it?” he said. “I was happy to settle for a dead heat because it was so tight. And now they’re saying: ‘You have won but we’re not going to give it to you anyway.’ My horse has done nothing wrong, my jockey’s done nothing wrong and do I feel robbed? Of course I do.”
While Oneida Tribe crossed in front of his rival on the run-in, Dickin argues there was never any contact between the horses and that Brian Hughes never stopped riding on the runner-up. He is no longer so bullish about an appeal as he felt on the day, even though a successful appeal would now win him all the first-place prize money rather than a share of it.
“One has to be sensible about it because, if it’s going to cost more to appeal than I’m able to gain, I’m probably not going to be able to go for it, which is sad. If the finance wasn’t involved at all, make no mistake, I’d be putting my case forward.”
Hughes maintained on Tuesday that Pinch Of Ginger would have won outright had he been granted a clear run.
A BHA statement said the official result for betting purposes had, in the event, been unaffected by Roberts’ mistakes but it added: “We will, of course, be taking steps to ensure such an incident does not occur again and will consider the matter internally. It is essential the BHA carries out all of its raceday officiating duties with the utmost accuracy. Our first priority is to get the decisions right on the day.”
It said the width of the course at Bangor means a mirror image of photo finishes is not always available. The same problem sometimes affects Ascot and Newmarket.