Racing: Lightning strike

The final race at Riccarton on Saturday was abandoned after a lightning strike.

Starter Stephanie Payne said the gates were struck by lightning and opened about 15min before the race was due to start.

She said everyone got a fright.

The lightning struck again six minutes before the race start time.

The race stewards called all the horses back to the enclosure and after consultation the decision was made to call off the race.

The gates were still working but Payne said it was better to err on the side of caution.

Refunds on the race were not available at the course until 45 minutes after the race was due to run. On-course patrons were left in the dark over the abandonment.

Half an hour later, the storm had passed over and the course was bathed in sunshine.

Payne said it was the first time she had heard of a race being called off in New Zealand because of lightning.

Canterbury Jockey Club chief executive Tim Mills said it was the right decision to call off the final race.

Its abandonment caused turnover to be down from last year.

On-course betting was $905,428 and off-course, $2,845,497.

The crowd at Riccarton was about 16,000, a similar attendance to last year.

The final race on the middle day at the New Zealand Cup meeting last year was called off due to the dangerous track after rain.

Lisa McGregor was suspended for five riding days after admitting a charge of careless riding aboard Choice Snitzel in the Welcome Stakes. McGregor was deemed to have shifted out at the 300m, checking Quintette.

McGregor is out from yesterday until December 10, inclusive.

A protest by the connections of Waterford, second across the line in the New Zealand One Thousand Guineas, was dismissed. Rollout The Carpet and Waterford came together 50m from the finish.

Chapinta and Marea Alta were feeling the ground in the New Zealand Cup. Dancing Embers was found to have tied up.