Cup contender: Fierce Impact could be heading to the Doomben Cup on a quick back-up (Photo: AAP)

Another stuff-up in Queensland shows the need for microchip readers

May 12 2019

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission appears stuck in the 20th century after another mix-up which saw a winner at Toowoomba carry the wrong saddlecloth on Saturday night.

QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett admitted runners are identified by brands and markings, rather than using a microchip scanner that cost $200, which are used around the country after mix-up in Rockhampton earlier in the year.

Integrity in Queensland continues to come under the spotlight with the long-running case surrounding Ben Currie, who was disqualified for four years on Friday more than a year after first being charged with offences by stewards.

But it has been raceday errors like the slip-up of declaring the wrong number for fourth after a photo in Toowoomba last month and letting the wrong horse run at Rockhampton in March that have hurt more.

Saturday’s mistake was fortunately picked up before correct weight but was incredible given the checks that should have found Royal Warfare in the wrong saddlecloth. He was No.4 in the race but went out with the five saddlecloth, which was supposed to be carried on the aptly named Unimaginable.

The jockey was in the correct silks and racecaller Anthony Collins identified the mistake as Royal Warfare crossed the line. Stewards confirmed the mistake after the race and found the the two horses involved carried the correct weight and jumped from the correct barriers. The numbers were changed in time for punters to be paid correctly.

It follows the error in Rockhampton in March when two stablemates were confused, which wasn’t picked up by stewards. An investigation into that mistake found that the identification of brands was to blame.

“Although the inquiry is not yet concluded, an interim report has identified that the trainer presented the wrong horse in error and this mistake was compounded by the failure of a steward to fully check the markings in accordance with established practice,” Barnett told AAP at the time.

“Given that the stewards successfully check about 28,000 thoroughbreds prior to racing in Queensland each year this is a very rare, but regrettable oversight.”

That brands and markings are used to identify horses is remarkable, considering every horse in the country is microchipped and a chip readers are used to clearly identify horses in other states.

– Chris Roots, Brisbane Times