A few eyebrows were raised for the minor prize in race 4 at headquarters on Thursday night.
While King Of Calypso and My Father’s Son ran a clear 1-2, there was plenty of interest in third placing. When Kenny The Brute (2) switched outside of Count Me In (9) turning for home and hit the line together, stopping the clock in 34.410 and sharing the third place cheque.
Or did they?
As the photo below shows, despite their identical race time, Count Me In clearly finished in front of Kenny The Brute. But how is there a clear margin when both runners ran the same time?
The answer is that while FastTrack displays three decimal places, the FinishLynx timing system can find a margin 10 times finer. When going to a fourth decimal point, Count Me In completed the 595m trip in 34.4095 or 0.0009 seconds ahead of Kenny The Brute (34.4104) and that the displayed time was the result of rounding.
It’s safe to say that the margin of a ‘nose’ in this case may be somewhat of an exaggeration. It’s also safe to say that 0.0009 seconds is not a lot of time. It’s much less time than it takes for a flash of lightning (0.2 seconds), or a blink of an eye (0.15 seconds), or even the time it takes for your brain to tell your legs to stamp the ground cos you backed Kenny The Brute to run a drum (0.02 seconds). It’s also the difference between the $1065 for third place and nothing for fourth.
So how often is the judge unable to split two runners? In the last 20,237 races at Sandown Park dating back to January 2002, there has been just 22 dead heats for first place. That’s just 0.11% of races, or around a 920/1 chance of a dead heat for first in a race at Sandown Park.
Bonus fact: Sandown was the first race track in the country to install a photo finish camera. The camera was first tested in the early 1940s, and was a multi-lens camera (the first photo finish camera was a 15 lens camera that took 360 photos per second) made from war surplus material, including the lenses which were sourced from Wellington bombers where they had been used as part of the bomb sight cameras!
John Cooper, the inventor of the camera, funded his invention with proceeds from his champion greyhound ‘Tinkerman’.