Turn it up! Everyone's a loser

New Zealand racing, and in particular the South Island's thoroughbred racing community, was a big loser when last Sunday's Oamaru meeting was abandoned.

The meeting was subsequently rescheduled and run at Ashburton on Tuesday.

It is not unreasonable to argue the cost could be counted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A good chunk of cash and time bled straight out of owners' and trainers' pockets when horses were trucked from Southland and Canterbury to the Oamaru racecourse on Saturday night.

For those who are unaware, it is good practice to travel horses to a race meeting the day before they are to run if they are coming from a fair distance.

It is harder to gauge exactly how much the Oamaru Jockey Club lost from Sunday's debacle, but the total cost would undoubtedly be significant.

Few would argue their turnover would have taken a big hit by moving the meeting away from Oamaru.

Going from Sunday to Tuesday ruled most working people out of attending, judging by the small crowd on course at Ashburton.

The television audience would have shrunk under the same circumstances.

Turnover figures will not show the loss the Oamaru club sustained from not being able to celebrate its biggest raceday of the year.

From what I saw, the club put a huge amount of effort into making the day a success for the Oamaru racing scene, the Oamaru public and the wider South Island racing community.

The Oamaru racecourse has gone from the threat of closure to a reprieve in the past 18 months, so Sunday was arguably one of the most important opportunities in its history to run a successful meeting there.

Everything adds up to a huge loss to the South Island racing industry.

It is one it is all too familiar with.

And I would argue it is one many would be able to cope with if it came through unavoidable circumstances - if a flash downpour, snow storm, hurricane or something similar hit the Oamaru course on Sunday morning.

However, to me that is not the case.

I have been told by several reliable sources that the Oamaru club had knowledgeable people look at the track a massive six days before the meeting. And they told New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing that it was highly unlikely it would be fit for racing.

It seems nobody took any notice of that warning.

The official response I got on Sunday was that it was anticipated that forecast rain would bring the track, which had a good2 reading, in to a safe state.

MetService figures show just 5.2mm of rain fell in the previous 27 days. That should give you an idea how hard the ground was and how much rain was needed to make the track safe.

I am far from an expert on these matters, but it seems to me that is a hell of a gamble.

The debacle shows that racing authorities have not learned anything from the devastating string of abandonments the country has seen in the past two seasons.

There should be protocols in place to avoid such happenings.

It is not hard, it is not rocket science, it is about having processes in place -

processes that inbdustry administrators should have in place if they are doing their job correctly.

This is what should have happened. A track inspection should have been held on Friday and had there been a reasonable chance of an abandonment, the meeting should have then been transferred to Wingatui.

Moving on Friday would not have led to the ridiculous situation of Canterbury trainers demanding it went to Ashburton and threatening mass scratchings due to their own logistical concerns.

If it had been held on Friday, the Oamaru club then could have arranged transport for its sponsors and supporters to attend.

Surely that would have not have been hard. Surely the questions owners and trainers now must ask the racing authorities is why did this not happen?

In fact, I think they should demand answers.

Happy trails.


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