10 August 2017
1. Philip McBride is a licensed trainer. He entered a horse trained by him, MANDARIN PRINCESS, to run in a race at Yarmouth on 27 July 2017 for 2-year olds, namely the Read Silvestre De Sousa at 188Bet Novice Auction Stakes.
2. A horse trained by Mr McBride did run in this race and was the winner. The winner was selected for a dope test. As part of that procedure the identity of the horse is confirmed by scanning its identity implant. That revealed that the horse was not MANDARIN PRINCESS but MILLIE’S KISS, a 3-year old filly trained by Mr McBride and entered to run in a race at Yarmouth later that afternoon.
3. The Stewards held an enquiry in the course of which Mr McBride admitted that he had saddled and run the wrong horse for the race. The Stewards referred the matter to the BHA.
4. Following that referral this enquiry has been convened on 10 August 2017 to consider a formal objection to the winner of the above-mentioned race, named as MANDARIN PRINCESS, and to consider whether Mr McBride has committed a breach of Rule (C)37.2 of the Rules of Racing which requires a trainer to ensure that the horse that runs in a race is the horse that was named at the time of entry.
5. Mr McBride has been present at the enquiry. He admitted a breach of the Rule. The BHA was represented by Lauren Robinson.
6. In presenting the case Ms Robinson said that the BHA accepted that this incident was an accidental error: there was no fraudulent intent or a deliberate endeavour to deceive by Mr McBride. There was put before the Panel a few documents which included a report of the betting on the race by Mr James Moore, the BHA Principal Betting Investigator, to the effect that betting on the race had raised no concerns. There were also copies of the identity forms for the two horses which include their markings. MANDARIN PRINCESS had distinctive white patches, particularly on her forehead, and the lower part of her left hind leg. MILLIE’S KISS had no white patches.
7. Mr McBride gave evidence and described in some detail his actions at Yarmouth on 27 July 2017.
8. He drove the horse box in which were the two horses to Yarmouth from Newmarket arriving about 11.30am some two hours before the race in which MANDARIN PRINCESS was entered to run. At the racecourse the two horses were put in adjacent boxes by Mr McBride and one of his stable grooms Alice Bond. They both went to have something to eat, and then Mr McBride declared both horses.
9. At 12.55pm Mr McBride instructed Alice “to get the 2-year old ready” which would involve brushing her over and putting the bridle on. Then she would lead the horse around until Mr McBride arrived with the saddle. Mr McBride said that he would normally saddle at about 1.00pm, that is to say over half an hour before the race. He went to the weighing room and asked that the jockey booked to ride MANDARIN PRINCESS (J F Egan) be asked to weigh out and was told that he would have to wait ten minutes as Mr Egan was in the sauna. It was not until about 1.22 or 1.23pm that he was able to collect the saddle. By that time Mr McBride reckoned he had only 15 minutes to get across to the stables. saddle the filly and get her in the ring.
10. At the stable Alice was waiting with the horse. He put the saddle down, noticing there were elasticated girths, and that put him in a bad mood as he dislikes them. Mr McBride described the saddling in these words, “I went into auto pilot . . . I threw the saddle on . . ; it did not dawn on me to look at the filly . . . I did not watch the filly as she walked away [to the parade ring]”.
11. In the parade ring Mr McBride said he was engulfed by friends and he did not take any notice of the filly when she was walking around. When the jockey came to join them he had to be sent back to the weighing room as he was not wearing the sponsor’s logo. This was just at the time that the “get mounted” bell rang. By the time he got back every other horse had gone down. “I threw him onto the filly” said Mr McBride. He was unable to watch the filly go down as the big screen was not working.
12. Mr McBride was stunned when the filly won. He did not think she would win as she was a backward 2-year old. He had a bet of £10 each way on her: “all owners have bets on their horses”. (Mr McBride was a part owner of MANDARIN PRINCESS).
13. Mr McBride asserted that it was only when Mr Anthony McGlone (the Stipendiary Steward) told him the wrong horse had run in the race that he realised that the horse he saddled and ran was not MANDARIN PRINCESS. In 50 years as a trainer no one had brought out the wrong horse for him to saddle.
14. Accompanying Mr McBride at the enquiry was Mr Ian Pattle, a co-owner of MANDARIN PRINCESS. He told the Panel he had seen the filly once or twice a week since the previous October. He was at Yarmouth on 27 July 2017. It never dawned on him that this was not his filly that won the race, even when he led her back after the race.
15. The Panel’s initial reaction to Mr McBride’s claim that he never even suspected that the horse he was saddling and parading in the paddock was not MANDARIN PRINCESS was one of scepticism. Mr McBride was a trainer of many years’ experience. He was training a small number of horses, about 25. He must have been familiar with the looks of all of them. MANDARIN PRINCESS had distinctive white markings not present on MILLIE’S KISS the horse he saddled. However, much pressure he was under, Mr McBride had ample opportunity when in close proximity to MILLIE’S KISS whilst saddling her, when she was walking around the parade ring and when mounting the jockey, that the horse was obviously not MANDARIN PRINCESS. It seemed inherently improbable that Mr McBride had just made a mistake. However, we were persuaded that it was no more than an error, albeit a major error on Mr McBride’s part. The background circumstances were not consistent with the existence of some kind of fraudulent conspiracy or deliberate deception. Mr McBride impressed us as a witness of truth. If there had been a sinister aspect to this incident we are confident that the BHA would not have accepted that it was an accidental error.
16. If carelessness was the root cause of a 3-year old filly MILLIE’S KISS rather than the unraced 2-year old MANDARIN PRINCESS running in the first race at Yarmouth on 27 July 2017 it was carelessness of a high degree which cannot be excused. That must be reflected in the penalty. The Rule which has been breached by Mr McBride, Rule (C)37.2, cannot be regarded as one which attracts severe punishment as the Guide to Procedures and Penalties recommends a fine within the range £500 to £2,000 with an Entry Point of £800. We take into account that in this instance the initial fault would appear to be that of the groom, Alice Blond, who prepared and led out the wrong horse, (though it has to be mentioned that she has not been at this enquiry and we do not know what is her explanation or what she understood her instructions to be). Nevertheless, the blame lies primarily with Mr McBride and the fine must be in the upper range of what is recommended. The fine we impose is £1,500.
17. The objection to MANDARIN PRINCESS must be upheld and the placings in the Read Silvestre De Sousa At 188Bet Novice Auction Stakes altered as follows:
FYRE CAY (IRE), placed first, TAKE SHELTER, placed second, MERKAVA, placed third and DORCAS, placed fourth.