Spate of abandonments curtail weekend racing

Last start Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) winner Levante (pictured inner) completed a pleasing exhibition gallop at Tauranga on Sunday before the meeting was abandoned due to issues with the safety of the racing surface. Photo Credit: Race Images – Peter Rubery

Inclement weather across the country has forced the abandonment of two further race meetings with both the Tauranga meeting on Sunday and the Tauherenikau meeting scheduled for Monday called off without a race being run.

The cancellations follow the abandonment of racing at New Plymouth on Saturday following the conclusion of race one that saw jockey Bridget Grylls take a tumble from her mount Madam Sass due to a slippery patch on the point of the home bend, caused by persistent rain throughout the morning.

Thankfully both horse and rider were unharmed in the incident.

Following an exhibition gallop by the Jamie Richards-trained Quattro Quinta and last start Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) winner Levante, raceday officials at Tauranga spoke with riders Joe Kamaruddin and Ryan Elliot regarding the effect that light misty rain had had on the racing surface.

Both riders expressed safety concerns about a patch of ground nearing the 1000m mark with the firm nature of the ground underneath the surface a potential safety hazard.

A delegation of senior riders and officials inspected the track and the decision was taken to abandon prior to Race 1 due to an inconsistent racing surface.

Similar inspections took place on Sunday morning at Tauherenikau after heavy rain in the previous 24-hour period and a similar forecast for Monday causing grave concerns for the meeting.

The track received approximately 50mm of rain through to Sunday morning with more significant rain to come. With some surface water on the track and inconsistencies with the surface, the decision was made, in the interests of safety, that the meeting would not go ahead.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing announced that a new race-meeting has been scheduled for Hawke’s Bay on Thursday February 10 with nominations for this meeting to close at noon tomorrow (Monday). The programme will be similar to that at Tauherenikau however with the rail out the 1000m races will now be 1200m while the 2050m races become 2100m.

A maiden 3YO 1400m has been added to the programme after the loss of the Tauranga meeting, whilst the Listed Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) will become the feature event on the day.

They also announced that the R74 1600m, Maiden 1600m and R65 2100m from today’s Tauranga meeting have had their scratchings re-instated and will be raced at Ruakaka on Wednesday.

Co-trainer Ken Kelso, who prepares Levante with wife Bev, was delighted they could complete the exhibition gallop at Tauranga as it was touch and go as whether permission would be granted.

“When we got there, they were inspecting the track and while I thought it looked alright, I did think they would definitely be cutting into it pretty quickly,” he said.

“We spoke with the stewards and asked if they ran the first race and then abandoned the meeting, would we be allowed to gallop after that.

“That wasn’t an option so we agreed to go before the first and I am pleased we did as it would have meant missing a crucial gallop in the mare’s preparation for this coming Saturday.

“I do feel for the owners and trainers who had horses engaged at the meeting as it is an expensive exercise where no one comes out on the winning side when a meeting is called off like this.”

Levante is set to contest the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on Saturday with Kelso delighted with how she has recovered from her Telegraph victory.

“She got around as good as gold and looks very bright,” he said.

“We know that a gallop like today is very different to a race as the riders are holding their heads and keeping them out of trouble, so we were thankful we could get her out there for a good hit-out.

“I think we clocked her coming her last 1000m in a tick over a minute, the 800m in just over 46seconds and the last 600m in around 34 seconds, so it was very good work.

“She will head into Saturday in good shape and without the worry of having missed a crucial gallop that could have been the case today.”

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