Time Is Running Out For Dated Race Clocks

By: Sarah Fortnum
December 20th, 2011

The controversy surrounding timing malfunctions at Australian racecourses has continued to grow after one was publicly documented at Flemington last weekend.

The discrepancy in recorded race times came to light after Jugahlation was awarded a time of just 1 minute and 07.88 seconds while posting victory in the 1,200 metre Fiesta Star Handicap in Melbourne.

Later analysis by independent experts deemed the race time to be approximately 1 minute and 08.66 seconds, which is a full four and a half lengths slower than the original time.

Since the incident, there have been widespread calls for official timers to be made more accurate.

Form analyst Rob Waterhouse says inconsistency in race times has been commonplace for years.

“It’s not gospel unfortunately,” Waterhouse said.

“They are very casual with it.

”It seems extraordinary to me that something so important doesn’t acquire greater attention.”

Waterhouse believes race clubs choose to hide their mistakes rather than making the true time known to the public.

”I would be grateful if it was recognised by the race clubs,” he said.

“If a mistake has been made, to say it loudly and clearly, rather than pretend it’s not the case.

”The equipment they have at Sydney racetracks appears to be substandard.”

Fellow racing analyst Dominic Beirne also believes the only way to be assured of a race time is to do it yourself.

Beirne, amongst many others in the racing industry, are calling for current timing mechanisms to be updated.

”We have relied on our own timing mechanism since the mid 1980s and, not to be critical of the system they have in place, if you want to rely on times you have to do it independently,” he said.

One of the most severe cases of race time errors took place in November this year, when Honourable Aussie’s winning time was found to be a full three seconds slower than the time clocked by independent analysts at Canterbury Racecourse.

Jugahlation

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