Saturday 16 December 2017

Wexford akin to a 'Minefield'

Officials at Wexford were yesterday forced to abandon their afternoon meeting after three races due to concerns about false patches of ground.

A number of trainers and jockeys took to the track to inspect conditions and having expressed doubts about the safety of conditions, the card had to be called off.

A statement from the Irish Turf Club said: "Following a course inspection in conjunction with a number of trainers and riders, the stewards decided to abandon the remainder of the meeting in the interest of safety due to ground conditions."

Two horses broke legs in the three races run and one rider, Paddy Kennedy, was taken to hospital with a suspected broken wrist.

Clerk of the course Paddy Graffin said: "I had concerns about remedial work carried out on the course six weeks ago and following two fatalities, I informed the stewards that I could not stand over the safety of the course for both horses and, most importantly, jockeys.

"When I arrived here on Saturday, two-and-a-half hours before the first race I noticed that remedial work had been carried out on the track.


"A compaction breaking machine had been used.

"I believed the work had been passed by the Inspector Of Courses and rang him (Val O'Connell) to confirm he was happy with the course.

"We had no problems with racing on Saturday until the riders in the chase unanimously expressed concerns about the ground approaching the last fence.

"With the help of the groundstaff we moved the entire chase track and re-sited the last fence.

"Following an incident in the second race, when Sandpit House slipped up on the approach to the second last hurdle, I positioned myself at that point of the course for the following race.

"While there was no repeat incident there, another horse was injured further up the track and I then informed the stewards that I couldn't stand over the condition of the track.

"I think 95 percent of the ground is perfect, but it is like a minefield.

"If a horse gallops over a patch of the ground where the compaction breaking machine was used, they break through the surface.

"Walking the track doesn't show up the problem. It is only when the weight of a horse travelling at 30mph hits the ground."


Meanwhile, Head Of The Posse made it two wins from two starts over fences with victory in the Barna Waste Ballybrit Novice Chase at Galway.

John Kiely's seven-year-old was rated in the 140s over the smaller obstacles but could take even higher rank on the chasing sphere judged on this Grade Three success.

With favourite Realt Dubh coming to grief four fences from home, Head Of The Posse (6-4) eased to the front approaching the home straight.

Although Son Of Oscar briefly threatened to make a race of it late on, Head Of The Posse kept finding for David Casey to pass the post with a length and three-quarters in hand.

"It was made very easy with the other horse falling," said Kiely.

"It was a pity that he didn't stay up, though we're obviously pleased to get the win.

"David was generally happy with his jumping and we have no plans."

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