Racing: Cones left on track cause chaos at Riccarton

Human error is being blamed for cones being left on the track, causing chaos during the first race at Riccarton Park yesterday.

The race was declared null and void.

It was believed to be the first time cones had been left on the track in such a manner, industry representatives told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

A jockey was thrown from her mount as riders tried to navigate their horses through the 14 cones left on the track at the 1000m mark. Neither riders nor horses were injured but the 2.40pm race was declared null and void as a result of the disturbance caused by the cones.

It was a bad start to the day, which only got worse as riders complained after the second race at 3.15pm that the track was slippery. After a track inspection and viewing of camera footage of the race, the Canterbury Racing meeting was abandoned.

The track was officially rated a dead (4). There had been heavy rain before the meeting began.

Canterbury Jockey Club chief executive Tim Mills said it was extremely unfortunate the 10-race event did not deliver what it promised.

He and others were trying to arrange for the meeting to be held next week.

''It was complete human error. One of the ground guys was instructed to remove the cones from the 1400m and 1000m marks. He picked up the 1400m cones but failed to bring the others in. There are no excuses.''

Mills said horses ran through and around the cones but the resulting disruption made it an unfair competition.

Fess would not be charged for the abandoned meeting, he said.

''We are hoping to reschedule it and give all the horses an opportunity to run again.''

More than 3000 people attended the event - many as members of Christmas and end-of-year work parties.

Racing Integrity Unit co-chief steward Nigel McIntyre said in the 25 years he had been in the racing industry he had never known of another incident in which cones were left on the track.

The unit would investigate the incident and report its findings, he said.

''Hopefully, we can put something in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.''

It was the second time bad weather had curtailed racing at Riccarton Park recently. The last race of the final day of the New Zealand Cup meeting last month was abandoned after an electrical storm triggered the opening of the starting gates before horses had been loaded.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing said last night it hoped to reschedule the eight races not run yesterday to next Tuesday.

Fields would remain the same but scratchings would be reinstated. It would be a twilight meeting.

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