Track endorsed without inspection

The Waikouaiti racecourse. Photo: ODT files
The Waikouaiti racecourse. Photo: ODT files
The Waikouaiti racecourse has been given the all-clear to host a two-day harness racing meeting later this month despite no official track inspection.

The annual galloping meeting there was abandoned on New Year's Day after the racing surface was deemed too dangerous after only one race was run.

Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ) and the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) have confirmed they have given the track a tick of approval for the Waikouaiti Trotting Club's meetings on February 22 and 24.

However, it has not come through official inspections, but instead by relying on local trainers who use it for trackwork.

HRNZ has relied on information from trainers to keep its racing manager, Darrin Williams, up to date on the condition of the track.

``Darrin has kept liaising with Ricky Allen and Denis O'Connell who are working the horses on the track and we are confident there won't be an issue,'' chief executive Edward Rennell said.

An annual review of the track showed no risks for harness horses in December.

``We have a process where all venues are inspected annually by Darrin Williams and John Denton,'' Rennell said.

``Waikouaiti was done in December and there were no issues noted with the track at the time.

``The galloping abandonment, as I understand it, . . . was due to a bit of rain on the day and it became slippery, and obviously we don't think that will be an issue with our ones.''

The RIU has backed the HRNZ stance on the
Waikouaiti track.

``We don't expect any issues,'' RIU general manager Mike Godber said.

``With the sulky, harness horses are less prone to slip than gallopers.''

Waikouaiti Trotting Club president Dick Tayler also endorsed the state of the track.

The club was taking a use-it-or-lose-it approach to its race day.

A successful and well-attended day would support the long-term future of the club and racecourse and would allow it to put more money into maintaining its facilities, he said.


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