Tragedy strikes Grafton after hail storm

GoulburnhailOne horse is dead and two were taken to hospital after a freak hail storm hit Grafton on Thursday.

Light rain was falling when the Ben Looker C3 Handicap started, but by the time the race had finished, torrential hail had set in and the conditions became very dangerous to both horse and jockey.

What happened after the race was chaos with four jockeys being dislodged on pulling-up and the clerk of the course sustaining a serious head injury.

Beau Brock finished second in the race, but bolted when being unsaddled and was unfortunately euthanized due to the injuries it suffered.

Jockeys made their way back to the enclosure with large welts from the hail, which was reportedly at golf ball size. Jockey Jasen Watkins suffered a suspected fractured wrist.

Three other horses were taken form the tie-up stalls and into the betting ring to avoid being struck by the hail.

Acting chief steward Drew Smith said the arrival of hail came as a surprise.

“We went on to the track and obviously we could see the storm coming. It was just raining ever so lightly but within the space of a minute it went to torrential hail so you couldn’t have seen it coming,” Smith said.

“Probably mid-race was when it really started, there was no thunder or lightning and those are normally the parameters we use to consider it safe for a meeting to proceed.

“It was just one of those things and hopefully the injuries people have suffered aren’t too bad.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, it was relentless.”

A track inspection of the track rendered it unsuitable for racing due to the ice not melting on the ground. The remaining six races were postponed.

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2024 years ago

Three cheers for all the jockeys who managed to get themselves and their mounts through the race relatively unscathed, in atrocious conditions.  What a terrifying experience for race fit, adrenaline-pumped racehorses. First class riding from all the jocks!   I was sorry to hear that Beau Brock was euthanized.