Mt Barker track too inconsistent for Mungrup

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Jockeys inspect the Mt Barker track after race four on January 2.
Camera IconJockeys inspect the Mt Barker track after race four on January 2. Credit: Laurie Benson

Mt Barker Turf Club has lost its biggest meeting of the season after its troublesome track was deemed unfit by stewards on Monday.

This Sunday’s $100,000 Mungrup Stud Sprint has been transferred to Albany as a result.

The MBTC venue was in a race against time to be ready for the major meeting after its January 2 meeting was abandoned because of waterlogged sections of the track caused by reticulation leaks. Racing and Wagering WA deputy chief steward Harold Taylor and thoroughbred racing manager Tim Beaver were in Mt Barker on Monday for the inspection.

The track was deemed inconsistent and a “great risk” to horses and riders by Taylor.

“There are still inconsistencies in the track surface with varying levels of firmness and softness,” Taylor said. “The track has to be as consistent as it possibly can be and there is no way you can present a track that inconsistent to race on.

“It poses a great risk to animal and rider. “They’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Mungrup Stud Sprint, which was last year moved to a later date because of extreme heat, will now be reduced from 1300m to 1240m and run at Percy Spencer Racecourse.

Albany Racing Club confirmed the rail would be out 1m after holding a nine-race program on Sunday. The loss is a major blow to the MBTC, which has lost several meetings in the recent years through track problems. Sunday’s meeting is a major financial one for the club, with the popular Grapes and Gallops festival attracting thousands of patrons on course.

MBTC president Stephen Carter said the club was “gutted”.

“We can’t put the jockeys and horses at risk of injury and we understand why the stewards have made that call,” he said. “There are still firm and soft sections on the track. We are gutted; it’s our major fundraiser for the season.

“We will have a committee meeting later in the week to see what the way forward is.”

RWWA racing general manager Charlotte Mills said the track problems were a concern.

“We are disappointed to lose any race meeting and the ongoing track problems at Mt Barker are of serious concern,” Mills said. “It is our utmost priority to ensure the safety of racing animals and participants and RWWA will be working with the MTBC to assess the circumstances moving forward.”

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