Wagga race meeting called off due to poor visibility

CALLED OFF: Southern District Racing Association chief steward John Davidson casts an eye over the Wagga track on Friday. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
CALLED OFF: Southern District Racing Association chief steward John Davidson casts an eye over the Wagga track on Friday. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

WAGGA’S TAB meeting was called off after just two races as the predicted wet weather arrived at the worst possible time at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Friday.

Only two races were able to be run before Racing NSW stewards were forced to intervene and postpone the remainder of the meeting.

Wagga trainer Tim Donnelly was one of the lucky ones, snaring a win in the second event, the Southern Cross Austereo Maiden Plate (1000m), with stable newcomer Magic Miranda before the decision was made.

Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) chief steward John Davidson downgraded the track rating twice prior to the first race, and then again after that, before calling the remainder of the program off due to poor visibility.

“Early in the day, riders expressed concern with visibility, footing wasn’t an issue,” Davidson said.

“Following race two it was evident to stewards, and also some riders made some comments, that when coming out of the barriers and crossing, basically 50 metres after the start they rode blind.

“When senior riders are telling you that, clearly I’m not in the business to send people out there to put themselves at danger.”

The rain eased up shortly after the decision but Davidson said the damage had been done.

“While 40 minutes after the fact it’s cleared, the track is still open, there is still water laying there and it was the only thing we could do in the interest of the safety,” he said.

“There was no issue with the footing of the track, they were getting into it but there was no slippage of anything like that, it was purely visability. As soon as they were crossed, that virtually had to ride blind.

“The last winner, Rebeka Prest, she rode in white colours and came back clean as and she has no issues with visability because she sat three or four deep, she never followed another horse. As soon as you got in behind a horse, it just made it impossible for them to see.

“I won’t send riders out there if it’s not safe.”

Murrumbidgee Turf Club chief executive Scott Sanbrook was disappointed with the result, but understood the decision.

He said he felt for trainers and owners most.

“It is really disappointing to lose the meeting but obviously jockey and horse safety are the priorities and that’s the important part in the decision,” Sanbrook said.

“It’s more of a blow for the owners and trainers, who rely on the prizemoney to help keep things going.”

Sanbrook will contact Racing NSW in a bid to get the feature race, the Riverina Stars on the Rise (1800m) for three and four-year-olds, re-run at another time or have a couple of extra races added to a future meeting.

The $2.80 favourite Up Trumpz won the first race.