Soft de­ci­sion ‘dis­ap­point­ing’

Pilbara News - - Sport - Re­becca Parish

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.

Pic­ture: Kelly Bell

Rac­ing was aban­doned at Port Hed­land Turf Club last Sun­day.

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