Claisse planning BHA discussion following light issue

Officials at Cheltenham will consult with the British Horseracing Authority to see if anything can be done to prevent a repeat of the light issues that affected the final race on Saturday’s card.

The closing mares’ bumper was staged in murky conditions and following a thrilling finish, a dead heat was called between Harry Fry’s Ishkhara Lady and the Dan Skelton-trained Elle Est Belle.

However, the dwindling light at the course made the official photo hard to read, prompting some outcry about the result on social media, and clerk of the course Simon Claisse is keen to avoid a repeat of the situation if possible.

“The judge can only do so much in those conditions,” he said.

“We’ll be looking to see if there’s anything we can do to help minimise the risk to stop these things happening.

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“Our race schedule is really based around ITV and we’re very lucky to have them here – it’s not the simple matter of starting earlier and getting the racing under way and finished before sunset.

“At the minute the rules say 15 minutes before sundown, which was 4.18pm yesterday, so we were in plenty of time. It was just one of those unfortunate sets of circumstances when it turned very dark because of the heavy rain.”

Claisse said there are a number of issues preventing them from just starting at an earlier time.

He told Racing TV: “There are all sorts of factors to bear in mind and betting turnover increases throughout the afternoon. It’s not as simple as saying ‘why don’t you start earlier’.

“We’ll take a look at it with the British Horseracing Authority in the weeks to come. If there’s anything we can do to reduce the risk of these things happening, we’ll certainly look at it.

“The race times are set by the BHA, in conjunction with the racecourses, but if we started earlier, someone else would be going later, so you may end up just pushing the issue from one racecourse to another.”

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