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Racing at Chelmsford abandoned after lights fail

It is the unpredictable nature of sport which keeps us all interested. If we knew who was going to win any event before it started, we wouldn’t bother watching. We all love a surprise or two such as the triumph of an underdog. However, there are some unexpected events which are less than welcome. One of these is most certainly being plunged into darkness in the middle of race.

Unexpected power failure

The third race at was recently thrown into chaos when the lights went out without warning. The course was plunged into darkness by a power cut and all eight runners in the 7-furlong handicap were at serious risk of having an accident. To add insult to injury, the steward was unable to see the end of the race and so could not determine a winner!

First past the post

Trainer Jamie Osbourne has insisted that his horse Florencio finished first. Osbourne had filmed the end of the race. He further claims that racegoers beside the track clearly saw what happened. But the race has been declared void.

Some of the riders in the race are thought to have eased up when the floodlights failed in the interests of safety and so even if the result of the race could be established, the result probably shouldn’t stand. Jockeys Luke Morris and PJ McDonald were reported to have said their horses were spooked by the sudden darkness.

Stewards investigate

The race stewards requested an explanation from the racecourse as to why the lights had failed. The clerk of the course, racecourse executive and an electrician were subsequently interviewed. As result of these interviews, the remainder of the meeting was cancelled.

In the wake of the drama, Jamie Osbourne has confirmed that although the race was declared void, Chelmsford honoured the prize money which he was happy about because he owns a share in the horse!

An investigation is now underway to discover why the backup system didn’t keep the lights on following the power cut. Generators should have kicked in when the power failed but they didn’t. it is imperative for the safety of jockeys and horses that the issue is resolved before further races are run after dark.

The power cut affected several aspects of the lighting at the track. But the lights in the stands remained on and partially lit the track during the remainder of the race.

Riders and horses return safe and sound

Ultimately, it was extremely fortunate that no jockeys or horses were injured during this episode.
Everybody came back safe, but things might have turned out very differently. Jockey Luke Morris said: "I’ve never known anything like it. I had just asked my horse to quicken at the top of the straight and then it was total darkness.

A report was forwarded for further consideration to the Head Office of the British Horseracing Authority. If racing is to take place during winter evenings, it is vital that track lighting benefits from a backup system which works.


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