Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Wexford Abandonment-24-10-10 Investigation Report

Wexford Racemeeting Abandonment on 24th October 2010
Investigation Report

An investigation was carried out by the Turf Club into the abandonment of Wexford Races on 24th October 2010 after three races due to unsafe ground.

Submissions into what occurred were considered from T.V. O’Connell, Inspector of Courses, P.F. Graffin, Clerk of the Course, Michael Murphy, Wexford Racecourse Manager, and Jim Ryan, Watering Contractor.  Recommendations made by Independent Agronomist, John Souter were also considered as was the outcome of gallops which took place on the track on 8th March 2011.

The main findings and recommendations are listed below:

Findings:

i. While the Turf Club Officials fully accepted that slitting work needed to be carried out at Wexford, neither the Clerk of the Course nor the Inspector of Courses were contacted in advance to let them know when the slitting was due to take place, with the result that the work was completed without it being overseen in any way.
ii. The track appears to have been perfectly raceable when the advance inspection was carried out on Thursday, October 21st.
iii. Even though caution was advised by both the Inspector of Courses and the Clerk of the Course with regard to watering, it appears that significantly more water was put on the track than was originally advised (15mm v 5-6mm). The decision to increase the watering over what was recommended was made by the Racecourse Manager on the basis of the weather forecast.
iv. An experienced foreman with a detailed knowledge of the track surface did not oversee the watering.
v. There was no evidence in advance of racing taking place on either Saturday or Sunday that the track was unraceable and on each day both the Chairman of Stewards and the Clerk of the Course were happy that racing should go ahead. The track walked perfectly on both days.
vi. When the jockeys expressed concern on Saturday about the chase track, the Clerk of the Course took these concerns into account and realigned the track for Sunday.
vii. Even after the first fatality on Sunday, the Stewards, Senior Jockeys and the Clerk of the Course could find no evidence of a problem and were happy to let racing continue.
viii. While the Clerk of the Course was unaware that slitting had taken place until he arrived at the racecourse on Saturday, he was satisfied that it was in order for racing to go ahead.
ix. Even though the whole track had been slit, the false patches of ground only occurred from the downhill run into the straight where most water was applied.
x. There is unanimous agreement between the Inspector of Courses, Clerk of the Course and Wexford Management that watering and rainfall were the reasons that the problems arose. Both the Clerk of the Course and Wexford Management also conclude that the slitting contributed to the problem.

Recommendations:
i. A maintenance plan should be drawn up at the start of each year setting out a programme of work to be carried out on the track.  This programme should be agreed with all parties and rigidly followed. Independent experts should be used as required.
ii. No remedial work should be carried out on racecourses without the prior approval of the clerk of the course/inspector of courses and they must be informed when the work is going to commence
iii. The type of remedial work to be carried out should be discussed in detail with the relevant Turf Club official/Independent expert in advance.
iv. The regulations on watering must be followed closely and extreme care needs to be taken when watering in the Autumn/Spring.
v. No further racing should take place on this track pending a full examination of the surface by an Independent expert and the carrying out of whatever remedial work, if any, is advised. In addition horses should be galloped on the track to ensure that it is safe prior to it being passed fit for racing.  (Both the track examination and galloping of horses has now taken place and no issues have arisen which preclude the holding of the next scheduled meeting on 17th March 2011).


A copy of the detailed report is attached.


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