What is the maximum ‘official’ winning distance?
Historically, the maximum ‘official’ winning distance – that is, the maximum, meaningful distance that racecourse judges could record – was 30 lengths; anything beyond that was simply recorded as ‘a distance’. However, when Kauto Star swept clear of his nearest pursuer, Madison Du Berlais, in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, 2009, the racing public was, understandably, keen to know the actual winning margin. Shortly afterwards, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) increased the range of distances available to racecourse judges to 99 lengths.
The next change to the maximum official winning distance was implemented, ‘in the interests of greater accuracy’, on New Year’s Day, 2018. At that point, the BHA extended its computerised ‘lengths per second’ (LPS) tables to 200 lengths. Thus, to quote one recent example of a relevant, wide-margin victory, the result of the open hunters’ chase at Bangor-on-Dee on February 7, 2020 is recorded for posterity as a 107-length win for Bob And Co, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by David Maxwell.