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Track Inspections – Yay Or Nay?

Do they actually happen?

We keep getting assurances that racecourses are inspected prior to racemeetings.

A recent incident at Scottsville, where a wet patch was only discovered after an accident, highlighted the responsibility aspect of whether the pre-raceday inspection duty  lies with the racing operator or the National Horseracing Authority.

The outcome of that incident was that assurances were given that the track manager walks the track.

That seems a touch casual, to be frank. When? Is it on his duty list? Does he submit a clearance report to the Stipes?

At Turffontein on Tuesday, after the running of the first race, the jockeys raised concerns regarding an area on the track between the 800m and 600m.

A track inspection revealed that there was a significant area of wear and tear at approximately the 800m. It was decided to remove the false rail which would allow the horses space to race away from the area.

The published track configuration was also changed.

So what happened to track management walking the track,? Why did  it take the jockeys to discover it when they raced over it?

Interestingly, in Hong Kong it seems they inspect the track between every race.

The HKJC issued a statement on Wednesday that stated that when  carrying out a routine track inspection at Happy Valley after Race 7 and before the commencement of Race 8, Hong Kong Jockey Club staff identified three small opened containers of paint on the back straight of the track.

The material was cleared away immediately.

It was decided to hold horses behind the starting gates to ensure that the start of Race 8 would only commence when Racing Stewards were satisfied that it was safe to go ahead.

An additional number of security staff were deployed alongside the normal patrolling security staff to ensure no similar incident could occur.

After noting the report from security staff, Racing Stewards were satisfied that the remaining two races could commence.

The Club said that it takes this incident very seriously and is looking into the case thoroughly and will review security measures.

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4 comments on “Track Inspections – Yay Or Nay?

  1. Beverley Hibbert says:

    I agree. Why are tracks not inspected between every race? The horses kick up grass, you can see it when they are running, and even though there appear to be people after the race pushing down stuff, I think for the safety of horse and rider, inspections should be carried out. They have 35 minutes between races to do this. Maybe fewer horses would break down if their well-being was put first. That being said, I do note in SA the horse is put higher than around the world. I mean, in the UK, I have seen races, in particular, jumps racing, happening in the pissing down rain which is so incredibly dangerous, but the UK racing authority doesn’t appear to care about the horse, only the income.

  2. GT says:

    Of course the operators have to inspect a track before any meeting. If it is not done the operators will be showing the world that they do not care for life and limb of the jockeys and horses.

    To be fair, jockeys are supposed to be professionals and should also be inspecting the track before putting a leg over an horse.

    Jockeys should be walking the entire track before racing commences. They will become aware of the good and bad going in advance and if they undertook an inspection, they would pick up any dangerous areas.

    If a dangerous area is not picked up before racing starts we should point fingers at the operators AND the jockeys.

  3. Harold says:

    I have noticed that the workers that are trusted with the task of replacing the turf that is removed after a race don’t do that. They are engaged in a conversation and seem to walk in a close group instead of dispersing and finding loose turf. I am referring to Greyville

  4. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Instead of the Barrier Trials, which is always before Race 1 — a Senior Jock or 2 can gallop the track.

    Ultimately they are the most competent. Same time horses get an outing. That’s all what Barrier Trials offer !

    No need to use 1st timers arounds bends 1st up. Use older horses coming back from longer breaks.

    Just a thought…

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