Punters left in the dark as final Cheltenham race deemed dead-heat despite photo finish suggesting otherwise

Punters left in the dark as final Cheltenham race deemed dead-heat despite photo finish suggesting otherwise

November 15, 2020

PUNTERS were left scratching their heads after a controversial photo finish in the last at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Elle Est Belle and Ishkhara Lady were adjudged to have dead-heated after the judges could not split them.

But many were in shock at the decision made by the stewards as they felt it was clear Ishkhara Lady just edged it.

Bookies were forced to pay out on both horses, but it was another kick in the teeth for the sport.

The image used for the photo finish was supposedly too dark for the judges to make a concrete call.

The race went off at 3.55, as the darkness had already set in.

The racecourse and the BHA faced criticism for not having technology that could cope with such conditions.

For a sport that relies so heavily on betting and the income generated through it, it was a mind-boggling situation for racing to find itself in.

A BHA spokesperson said: "In order to call a winner the judge has to be certain that one horse has crossed the line first.

"In this instance in the dark conditions it was not possible to say with certainty that either horse finished in front, even despite the fact that the judge has access to a higher definition image than is posted online.

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"Therefore a dead-heat was correctly called and this decision was verified by the stewards, as is standard procedure."

Punters took to Twitter to voice their confusion.

Chris Keen posted: "Clutching at straws imo… yes it was dark, yes the photo finish is not clear.. but the live still clearly shows Ishkhara Lady’s nose is just infront when hitting the line."

Paul Durrant said: "Ishkhara Lady got up and won. Poor decision and took so long to announce a DH."

Even our own Matt Chapman felt the evidence was clear enough.

He added: "While I totally understand the reason why a dead-heat was called, I am in no doubt in my mind Ishkhara Lady wontoday which is why I interviewed Sean Bowen after the race."

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