Hopes dashed by un­safe track

Sunday Star-Times - - RACING - TIM RYAN

HAWKE’S Bay Guineas favourites had to bow to out­sider Hard Mer­chan­dize on Satur­day at Hastings where rain saw a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in track con­di­tions.

Drama un­folded as the field pulled up af­ter the post in the Group II fea­ture when run­ner-up Bos­to­nian slipped badly and the meet­ing was aban­doned as a con­se­quence

The com­bi­na­tion of a Good3 rat­ing and a fore­cast for af­ter­noon show­ers led to the de­ci­sion to ap­ply the ground­hog to the track ahead of the first race.

The last rain to fall on the track was 3.5mm on the pre­vi­ous Sun­day af­ter which the track was rated Dead5 and that rat­ing was main­tained with 10mm on Tues­day night.

No more rain and strong winds pro­duced a Good3 rat­ing late Fri­day and race morn­ing dawned with driz­zle fall­ing.

Driz­zle turned to rain and a track down­grade to a Dead4 came af­ter the first race and was fur­ther down­graded to Dead6 af­ter race three.

Af­ter the Bos­to­nian in­ci­dent fears were im­me­di­ately raised that the meet­ing would have to be aban­doned.

With stress lev­els ris­ing of­fi­cials, train­ers and a large con­tin­gent of jock­eys un­der­took a track in­spec­tion around the area where the horse slipped.

The ground­hog was put to work while a meet­ing was held af­ter which an­other track in­spec­tion was un­der­taken and the de­ci­sion made to aban­don.

Safety was the rea­son Satur­day’s meet­ing could not pro­ceed.

‘‘The film footage clearly showed that Mark Du Plessis’s mount (Bos­to­nian] slipped quite badly when pulling up so the rid­ers had con­cern about that part of the track,’’ said chief stipen­di­ary stew­ard John Oatham.

‘‘As the day pro­gressed the horses cut into the sur­face and were down to a firmer part of the track again.

‘‘We re-in­spected it again with the rid­ers but it was clear there was a not a lot of con­fi­dence that they could ride com­pet­i­tively into that bend.

‘‘Ac­cord­ingly, in the in­ter­ests of safety for both horse and rider, we didn’t be­lieve we had any other op­tion but to aban­don the meet­ing.

‘‘It is bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing for ev­ery­one con­cerned but safety must come first.’’

Whether the Group I Li­va­mol Clas­sic can be sched­uled for an­other time was still un­der de­bate and a de­ci­sion un­likely for sev­eral days.

‘‘There is an­other 50mls of rain fore­cast in the next two days so there’s no chance of reschedul­ing in the next few days,’’ Hawke’s Bay Rac­ing gen­eral man­ager, An­drew Cas­tles said.

‘‘We may be able to or­gan­ise some­thing to be run in the next few weeks.’’

That rules dom­i­nant pre-post favourite Ginger­nuts out as he pre­pares for Aus­tralian tar­gets.

His Caulfield Cup plans are in dis­ar­ray and con­nec­tions may turn their at­ten­tion to a clash with Winx in the Cox Plate be­fore a run in the rich Emi­rates.

The Guineas was the day’s sixth race and on speed was the place to be.

Hard Mer­chan­dize, who is likely to by­pass the 2000 Guineas, jumped well and jockey Cameron Lam­mas dic­tated the tempo from that point on.

The Listed Karaka Mil­lions 3YO Clas­sic at Eller­slie in Jan­uary with a $1 mil­lion stake is on the win­ner’s radar.

TRISH DUNELL

Hard Mer­chan­dize (third left) wins the Hawke’s Bay Guineas from Bos­to­nian (out­side) and Jimmy Lin­coln.

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