Soft decision ‘disappointing’
A cancelled race day at the Port Hedland Turf Club last weekend because of alleged over-watering on the track provides a timely safety reminder for clubs going into the racing season.
Punters, trainers and volunteers were left disappointed on Sunday afternoon when the Port Hedland Turf Club postponed its race day because of safety concerns.
Turf Club president Darren White said the meeting was called off because the stewards decided the track was not safe for racing because of some “soft” spots on the course.
Mr White said while the club accepted responsibility, he said the club didn’t agree with the actions taken by the stewards, adding it was the committee’s opinion that the track was safe.
“We’ve had lots of support from owners, trainers and jockeys saying that they would have been happy for their horses to be on that track,” he said.
Mr White said the meeting had not been abandoned as yet and that organisers were looking into whether it can be held again in coming weeks, but he said it was highly unlikely because of a busy race calendar around the North. He estimated the club lost more than $25,000 because of the cancellation of races.
Just one race was run on the day, and one bookkeeper said the outcome was disappointing and unprofessional, especially given that so many people travelled to Hedland for the event.
Another trainer said it meant many other trainers would not be paid, with some races worth $3000-$4000 for the winning horse and $200 per horse that ran.
Mr White said it wasn’t the case that the track had been over-watered, but rather that the stewards were concerned about inconsistency.
Vice-president Tony Barron said it was a let-down for the fairly new committee which had put in a lot of work at the course this year to ensure it was up to standard.
“We’re constantly working on the track, all the time,” he said.
“It’s extremely disappointing because we are all volunteers.”
The club estimated about 300 people were on course on Sunday before the event was called off after just one race.
More than 120 ticket holders were refunded. Mr White said the club put on a free bar and food for an hour after the decision was made.
Racing was abandoned at Port Hedland Turf Club last Sunday.