Extensive surface water across Happy Valley racecourse following a savage early-evening rainstorm forced the abandonment of last night's meeting on the grounds of safety concerns for jockeys. Rain pelted the racecourse for most of the afternoon but a sustained tropical downpour from 6pm meant that even Happy Valley's renowned drainage system failed to cope. 'After walking the track with John Ridley [head of racing operations and equestrian], we found a consistent level of surface water across the entire course,' chief stipendiary steward Jamie Stier said. 'The weather forecast was, however, the most critical factor. The forecast was for the rain to get worse, which would have given the course no chance to recover. If there had been an imminent break in the weather, we could have waited and the track would have recovered fairly quickly. But with the forecast being as bad as it was, there were no real options.' Ridley said the course could have recovered sufficiently to safely stage horse racing if rain had ceased for at least 30 minutes. Stier said racing on the course after 155mm of rain in 24 hours, including 60mm from 6.30pm, could not have been considered because of safety issues. 'We actually thought the state of the track was safe, but the surface water would have made for major visibility problems for the rider of every horse except the leader,' Stier said. 'It would have been too dangerous for us to consider.' After appraising police, who had to swing a force of officers back to Happy Valley to manage the 6,439 departing patrons, stewards abandoned the meeting at 7.45pm. Stier said the club's racing committee would meet tonight to consider a possible rescheduling of the meeting, with the possibility looming of the season being extended to include a night meeting at Happy Valley on June 29. The club would not need government approval for such a meeting because it is licensed to conduct 78 meetings and last night's fixture, the 75th of the season, was never run. The last meeting rained out was at Happy Valley on May 22, 2002, when the last race was lost after a heavy rainstorm. Since then, meetings on September 11, 2002 and September 4, 2003, were postponed due to typhoon warnings, which make cancellation automatic under local law. Both those meetings were subsequently run on replacement dates. Stewards ordered that all bets that had been taken on the meeting would be refunded in full. Officials had expected a betting turnover for last night's meeting of around $700 million, which would have provided the government with an estimated $90 million in betting-tax revenue.