Ruby Walsh: How racing can avoid embarrassing Ballydoyle mix-up in future

The case of mistaken identify for the Aidan O'Brien stable has racing's authorities scrambling for a solution.



Ruby Walsh feels that microchipping horses as they enter the parade ring will prevent incidents of mistaken identify such as the embarrassing mix-up between two Aidan O’Brien runners at Newmarket on Friday.

The Ballydoyle stable faces a large fine after a mistake from their on-course staff saw the wrong horse officially placed third in the Group 1 Fillies Mile.

Recommended Reading: Ruby Walsh says Davy Russell has mentality to recover from latest injury

It was initially thought that 50-1 outsider Snowfall had come home third under James Doyle but it later transpired that the horse was actually stablemate and 18-1 shot Mother Earth while William Buick was really on Snowfall – albeit with Mother Earth’s saddlecloths – by mistake.

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby has pushed the case for microchip checks directly before races in order to avoid similar incidents in the future.

This was more than just a saddlecloth mix-up – it was the whole saddle and the rider!

It’s not a good look, but it’s a genuine error and mistakes happen. In the world we live in, where everyone has to be to blame for something, we have to blame someone!

I would say it’s probably the Ballydoyle staff at fault initially, but nobody is going to feel worse than they are. Can you imagine the embarrassment of having to ring Aidan O’Brien to tell him ‘very sorry boss, but we had the two fillies mixed up and put the wrong saddles on them’?

The jockeys – William Buick and James Doyle – wouldn’t have known, to be fair to them. They probably had never seen those two fillies before.

It’s to do with the staff during the COVID restrictions, with one set of staff being in the UK. The guys that loaded them on the plane were not the guys that took them off the plane. It just happens.

Now, to prevent it from happening – prevention is always better than cure –  horses should be micro-chipped as they enter the parade ring, in my opinion. Not as they come to the races, as they come into the stable yard.

When they actually walk into the parade ring, with the saddle on them – that’s when they should be microchipped. If it was done as simply as that, it wouldn’t have happened.

Horses can be loaded onto the wrong boxes on the plane or trailer, and it has probably happened more often than you realise. Most often people realise when they get to the races that they’ve brought the wrong horse. All of a sudden there is a non-runner because nobody wants the embarrassment of it!

Pretty Gorgeous Shane Crosse Newmarket Fillies Mile October 10, 2020

It probably happens more often than you think, but I don’t know how many of them actually get onto the track. I’ve seen plenty of horses get mixed up, because they can’t tell you which one they are!

I rode one for Mick O’Brien many years ago that was the wrong horse, but he was the wrong horse when he left the sales! Mick never got the right horse.

He was the wrong horse for three months, and ran in three maiden hurdles as the wrong horse! Of course it can happen, but the microchipping should take place in the ring to avoid it.

Read More:

Get over to for all the latest racing odds


What do you think?