Racing: Abandonment down to track, not safety

By Mike Dillon

Photo / iStock
Photo / iStock

The abandonment of today's Counties meeting at Pukekohe had nothing to do with safety.

The cause was the concern of what a race meeting following heavy rain would mean to the ongoing condition of a new track surface.

Counties was out of action for a year while, essentially, a new track was laid. The club's committee was worried the track would have been ripped with lasting damage had today's meeting gone ahead.

"We believed that when the dates from NZTR came out two dates in May and one in June was going to be tough if we struck a lot of rain and that's what has happened," said club CEO Greg Mitchell.

"The barrier trials we conducted here were with the rail in the true position and for the first raceday the rail was at 3m. The second was at 5m and when you get out beyond that, say 7m, the track would have been cut up compared to close in and it would have made for two different tracks. But the underlying reason was what damage would have been done to a track that is still very new."

The track was inspected yesterday by stipendiary steward Matthew Williamson and Trainers' Association representative Nigel Tiley.

"You can't emphasise enough that there are no issues with safety on the track.

"It is simply about how long it would have taken for the track to recover," said Tiley.

"Derek Nolan and my wife, Lee, rode two horses on the course proper this morning and they both said the track was perfectly safe."

Mitchell said the decision to abandon was to avoid the same result either just before racing started today or during the meeting.

"I've had trainers call me and say 'thanks for being pro-active'. A couple said they'd taken multiple horses to last week's Hawera meeting and had the races called off before a race had been run."

Mitchell said he was attending Monday's course managers meeting in Wellington and will investigate to where the Counties June 22 meeting may be transferred to help the track bed in.

"That will give the track the decent break it needs," he said.

- NZ Herald

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