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New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing officials should have seen the possibility of yesterday's Oamaru Cup day being abandoned and acted faster, a leading trainer has said.
Oamaru Jockey Club officials will try to make the best of the situation when the club's annual cup meeting is held at Ashburton tomorrow.
The $35,000 Oamaru Cup was to be held at Oamaru Racecourse yesterday but the meeting was postponed due to the state of the track.
Rain on a previously dry surface made parts of the track unsafe and officials called the race day off yesterday morning.
Stipendiary steward Mark Davidson said the track was simply not in a safe enough state.
"There were some inconsistencies with the track that meant we could not send them around."
He said the ground had been unable to cope with a heavy deluge.
"They are just unfortunate circumstances, with it being so dry here. The rain is not penetrating the ground, because it is so hard underneath."
Wingatui trainer Terry Kennedy said New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) should have seen the situation coming.
The course was rated in a good condition early on Friday. Metservice figures show just 5.2mm had fallen in the previous 27 days, which led to the track being so firm.
Oamaru had 5.2mm of rain on Friday, 16.6mm on Saturday and 23.6mm yesterday morning.
Kennedy said NZTR and the Racing Integrity Unit were warned the abandonment was possible and should have acted.
"People who looked at the track early in the week told NZTR that there would not be racing at Oamaru. The meeting should have been transferred a long time before Sunday morning."
Kennedy did not enter horses at the meeting because of his concerns with the track.
NZTR racing operations manager Tim Aldridge said the track had been expected to be fit for racing yesterday.
It had been downgraded from a good2 rating to dead6 by Saturday and was on its way to being suitable for racing, he said. The large amount of rain that fell up to yesterday was expected to be good for the surface, but had proved detrimental.
The club faces racing on a completely different surface at Ashburton tomorrow. The track was rated heavy11 last night and had received 60mm of rain since Tuesday, according to NZTR
Kennedy said racing at Wingatui would have been a better option because it kept the meeting in Otago and Wingatui offered a better surface.
Aldridge said that would have compromised the meeting's viability.
"The general feeling I got from the trainers I spoke to was that [Ashburton] was preferred to Wingatui.
"The Canterbury horses would have to go down [today] on a five-hour float trip after not being worked on Sunday.
"So I think there was going to be a large amount of defections."
Southland and Otago trainers and owners now face the extra expense of travelling to Ashburton tomorrow, after many have already travelled to Oamaru.
Oamaru Jockey Club president John Foley said his club would try to make the best of it.
Early indications suggested many supporters would travel to Ashburton, he said.
"It is not ideal, but we are going to make the best of a bad situation. Hopefully, Riccarton and South Canterbury communities will support the meeting as well as North Otago people."
He said the club would be doing everything possible to make sure its rescheduled race day was a success. The organisation had put a lot of work into making it an occasion to unite the southern thoroughbred racing community.
It was important the club continued to race at Oamaru after the venue's future had been put in doubt by the Messara report.
"We want to keep Oamaru alive and racing well, because we have had a reprieve from the Messara report."