Controversy Mars Golden Chase Series

CONTROVERSY, frustration and confusion prevailed after the final match up in Thursday’s $25,000 Golden Chase set of four, two dog match races. 

Peter Fenemor

2 April 2021

CONTROVERSY, frustration and confusion prevailed following a timing malfunction which impacted on the final match up in Thursday’s $25,000 Golden Chase set of four, two dog (457m) match races. 

No final time was immediately declared for the final match race victor Pedro Lee.

The infield timing/results board at Manawatu Raceway was displaying 25.5? with the final digit stubbornly failing to display, with most expecting Pedro Lee to fall into second position.

The final time was obviously going to have a significant bearing on the overall race outcome with the low-flying Lisa Cole prepared Federal Morgan posting his 25.50s clock in the third 457m match up to take over first place.

Occupying second place on the leader board at this stage was Drink Shoeys which set the initial time at 25.59s following his freewheeling display in the first match up. 

The timer almost always rounds down when settling on the final race time, however on this occasion there was no further movement on the board for Pedro Lee which is a Peter Ferguson trained kennelmate of Drink Shoeys.

Eventually Pedro Lee was credited with a 25.61s gallop and that is when the murmurings kicked in, with most expecting a time between 25.50 and 25.59 to be posted.

Here is the relevant extract from the Stewards report pertaining to the incident.

“The all clear was delayed after the on-course digital timing for match race number 4 malfunctioned and as a consequence the time for PEDRO LEE was unable to be established via this method of timing.

“As per the race conditions in the case of any equipment malfunction during the match races the race impacted on will be referred to the Exemptions Committee consisting of Michael Dore (GRNZ Racing Operations and Welfare Manager) in conjunction with the RIU (Racing Integrity Unit) and the Chairman of the GRNZ Rules of Racing Committee (Robert Death). It was the decision of this committee to use the Formpro system to establish a final time for PEDRO LEE.”

Formpro are a long established, reliable provider of ratings, sectionals, speed maps and predictors for New Zealand and international racing.

Managing director David Archibald agrees the situation wasn’t ideal however is adamant that the correct time was provided for Pedro Lee. 

Formpro principal Neil Davis crunched the numbers and had also been doing so for the other three match ups as a back-up.

“Neil has been working with sectional timing for over 20 years and his processes have been universally accepted and used by all racing codes over that time,” said Archibald.

“He independently calculated the exact times the other greyhounds returned and validated them exactly with the Finish Lynx times.

“The software we use can calculate down to one frame which equates to 0.004 of a second.   

“He was able to confirm the second dogs time (Big Time Pluto) and from there Neil was able to validate the winners time (Pedro Lee). 

“We are reliant on integrity and Neil double and triple checked all aspects to ensure accuracy was obtained and that contributed to the delay. We can understand the frustrations.”

Peter Ferguson was exasperated the following morning when spoken to, questioning the competence displayed.

“I believe it was a photo finish malfunction and what transpired from there underlined incompetence within the industry. It has a roll on effect for trainers, owners and punters.

“Somebody must be held accountable. My argument is that Pedro Lee’s time was showing 25.5 and I consider his final time would have to be in the 25.50 to 25.59s range without question,” stated Ferguson.

Let us stress that nothing can be taken away from the declared winner Federal Morgan, which is in the midst of a potent feature race winning spree.

The Scott Eaton owned son of Fernando Bale and Absolute Beaut has recently successfully annexed a pair of Group 1 titles and Thursday’s victory takes his career stake earnings up to $167,236, the result of 26 wins, 15 minors from his 54 race day appearances.