Club to probe curtailed meeting

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 March, 1999, 12:00am

An internal inquiry into Saturday's partial abandonment of a Sha Tin race meeting will be held today with emphasis placed on finding a way to ensure there is no repeat.

Racegoers were deprived of three grass races, the Jockey Club handed back $199 million and were thwarted in posting a totalisator turnover which would have been one of the best of the season.

Director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said: 'It is of no use to cry over spilt milk but we must ensure as much as is possible that this cannot happen again. It was unfortunate but we acted as we had to in the circumstances. The main problem, as I see it, is that there is no camber to the New Bend and that makes it very awkward.

'We must really see if there is anything that can be done about that,' he said.

Tracks chief John Ridley left Sha Tin on Saturday disconsolate, although nobody was blaming him for a bizarre set of circumstances that led to the grass racing being abandoned.

Ridley explained: 'When Eric Legrix and Carol Yu galloped the track in the morning they reported that it was good to yielding. I would prefer to use the old term of 'dead'.

'Normally, we would water the New Bend and the approach to it - that was where the problem really lay - but with the ground yielding and the likelihood of heavier rain, I decided against watering.

'I knew quite early on that we could be in trouble and it was no surprise when the jockeys reported back as they did. I believe we did the best we could when we sent the digger out to slice into the track but it wasn't successful.' Engelbrecht-Bresges is expected to get a full report from Ridley, but short of a multi-million dollar redesigning of the bend and cambering, there seems little that can be done to guarantee no repeat.

Ironically, heavy rain would have ensured there was no problem as it would simply have soaked straight through, but the light curtain of rain that fell stayed on the grass.

At least two jockeys, including Douglas Whyte, reported that the ground underneath was also shifting, which caused problems.

On The Rails - Page 30