70 years of photo finish developed by RaceTech 1947 – 2017

26th April 2017 Claire Pilcher

It is 70 years since the first Photo finish technology was used to decipher the result of a horse race in the Grand Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom on 22nd April 1947.

RaceTech, which celebrated its 70th Anniversary last year, started with an initial brief to design and develop a photo finish solution for horse racing and other sports.

The Race Finish Recording Company, as RaceTech was known back then in 1947, has continued to research and develop the camera technology which in these digital days shows the outcome of races announced in seconds.

RaceTech, innovators and world leaders in the field of Photofinish technology continue to research and develop photographic systems which continue to improve in quality of immediately available digital pictures.

Chris Clark, Head of Engineering and Racing at RaceTech said, “If you go back to RaceTech’s inception over 70 years ago, we have always innovated and evolved.  We employ talented individuals who think outside the box and use technology at its forefront to service horseracing and indeed, in the early days, other sports. If it wasn’t for the RAF pioneers who formed RaceTech in those early days, applying their expert aerial photographic knowledge from the war, who knows, RaceTech may not be in the position it is today. Innovation at its best can be simplistic. A great example of this is the obvious problem of tight finishes where the far side horse(s) could be obscured from the near side. Having large bulky equipment and a dark room both side of the line was not an option for practical and cost reasons even then. The simple solution was to have a calibrated mirror on the far side. This simple solution to a difficult problem is still used today around the world, although, as technology has evolved I see this changing over time.

“From black & white to colour film and in the modern era, nowadays just electronic photo finish is used. This is based on all the principals of film but without the bulky equipment, dark rooms and chemicals that were needed in the past. It is also far more reliable than its predecessor.

“A core principal RaceTech has is, its continued strive to invest in people and technology so our industry has the best integrity service in the world. 

“We are currently undertaking a review of the 4th generation of electronic photo finish camera which we hope will aid the judges even more in deciding the results on tight finishes.

“It’s not all about technology though, as our photo finish operators are all highly trained so in combination with the best technology, RaceTech can provide a world leading service to the Horseracing industry we are proud to service”.


Photo Finish Key Stages of Progress

1947 – The first Photo finish used at Epsom on 22nd April 1947

1948 – RaceTech provide London Olympics with Photo finish systems.

1949 – Photo finish first used to determine outcome of a Classic race in the Two

1949 – Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, 27 April.

1949 – Photo finish first used to determine outcome of the Derby, 4 June.

1957 – First mirror system used

1983 – Photo finish available on all British racecourses

1989 – First colour photo finish, used for the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket

1995 – Electronic photo finish system used

2000 – Electronic colour photo finish used across all courses

Further Information:

Kate Hills
RaceTech Communications Manager
M: 07813 947201

Richard Kydd