Disaster struck Africa’s biggest racemeeting on the sand, when hail caused the abandonment of the R600 000 Gr2 Emerald Cup at the Vaal today.
Dark clouds and rain had earlier led to minor delays and with only minutes to the jump, and with the runners already circling at the start, the weather turned nasty.
The meeting was abandoned shortly thereafter in the interests of safety.
The remaining three races, including the Listed Banyana and the Gr2 Emerald Cup will be added to the racemeeting at the Vaal this Thursday, 27 September.
Now one just hopes that Saftote don’t take all afternoon to release the ample funds tied up in the various exotics. The old debate about Saftote’s arrogant 100% exotic bet take-out will also no doubt be raised again.
The delay in rescheduling of the feature event could also well result in withdrawals of the visiting runners, who may now be exposed to the ill effects of altitude.
While hail causes over 1 billion dollars of damage in the USA every year, nobody can be blamed for the outcome today. The decision to return the runners was no doubt made in the interest of safety for horse and rider, but what an awful washout this was!
An Update – Phumelela’s Media Release issued on Sunday 23 September:
SUBJECT: Weather forces Emerald Cup date change
DATE: Sunday 23 September 2012
RELEASED BY: Phumelela Gaming and Leisure Limited
THE R600,000 Emerald Cup will now be run on Thursday 27 September after heavy rain over the Vaal Racecourse on Saturday prevented the Grade 2 race over 1450m, as well as two other events, from taking place.
As a result, the three races will be added to Thursday race card, which is also scheduled to be run on the Vaal sand track.
A thunderstorm in the early hours of Saturday morning had already left the track rain-affected, but just before Race 7 on the 10-race card, a hail storm hit the course. Once the storm subsided Race 7 did take place but further thunderstorm activity and hail made the underfoot conditions unsafe and the meeting was abandoned.
Please note that the two Emerald Cup reserve runners – Caryl’s Law and Kiss Again – have been reinstated and will take their places in the final field should there be any withdrawals from race as a result of the date change.
A new racecard for Thursday’s meeting, incorporating the Emerald Cup and the two other races, will be released on Tuesday.