McBride admits he saddled the wrong horse by accident to win the opening race at Yarmouth in which there is now a BHA investigation underway into how it happened
TRAINER Charlie McBride is hoping the British Horseracing Authority shows leniency after he was caught up in an embarrassing case of mistaken identity with one of his horses at Yarmouth on Thursday.
McBride thought he had saddled 50-1 shot Mandarin Princess to win the opening two-year-old race, but it was stablemate Millie’s Kiss who passed the post in first place.
Millie’s Kiss is a year older than Mandarin Princess and was due to run later on the same card in a race from which she was withdrawn by the Yarmouth stewards.
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McBride accepted full responsibility for the Yarmouth fiasco and is expecting to be fined by the BHA.
The Newmarket handler told Press Association Sport: “I have been in racing all of my life so I’d be disappointed if I was banned for one mistake.
“It was a complete accident. There was no collusion and no ulterior motive.
“There is obviously no excuse for not recognising it was the wrong horse. I know them both inside out and have ridden both horses.
“I expect I will get fined, but it was a human error – as simple as that.”
The mistake was discovered after the huge outsider, ridden by John Egan, had overturned the 4-6 favourite Fyre Cay.
The result was allowed to stand as the weigh-in signal had been announced, although most bookmakers paid out on the first and second horses to cross the line.
McBride admitted he was on “auto-pilot” and in a “mad rush” to saddle what he thought was Mandarin Princess before the first race of the day at 1.40pm.
He said: “I was waiting for the saddle at 1pm in the weighing room. John (Egan) weighed in 1lb over and was in the sauna, and that was why we were late trying to get the saddle.
“We put the saddle on in two minutes flat without even thinking it was the wrong horse.
“She looked sound and then we went straight to the parade ring, where I had 10 or 12 of her owners chatting away to me in the parade ring.
“I never even watched the filly go round (the parade ring) and then watched her canter away.
“When she won, everyone was euphoric and were hugging and kissing and chatting away to me. Even then it still didn’t occur to me it was the wrong filly.
“I was too engrossed with the owners, the press, and the presentation of the trophy.
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“Even her owners, who see her every week, didn’t even notice it was the wrong horse and were patting the filly in the winner’s enclosure.
“When you’re in a mad rush like that, you go on auto-pilot – you go through the motions.”
Chief executive Nick Rust confirmed the BHA will conduct a full and thorough inquiry, but said the Yarmouth case appeared to be a “genuine mistake”.
Rust added the introduction of further technology to reduce the risk of mistaken identity has been discussed, but that it would “involve a seven-figure investment”.
Angry punters and bookmakers demanded to know why the ‘winner’ was not immediately disqualified, with the race declared void.
But Rust told At The Races: “We have to complete our inquiries and examine evidence of videos and interview people again before we disqualify the horse, if all is as it seems.
“We did not want to compound things on the day and we have to draw the line at some point.
“The horse was tested, as is normal, within about half an hour of the race completing.
“On the day we had some other incidents. Unfortunately we had a fatality in one of the subsequent races and the veterinary officer needed to deal with that.
“The stewards needed to hold an inquiry between races, so it took a little bit of time to ensure all of the relevant people were together.
“Obviously the weighed-in signal had been announced. We want to ensure we learn from this in terms of how quickly we can get an announcement out, and we will.
“If all is at it seems, this horse will be disqualified, of course, and the (other) owners will receive their prize-money in due course.”