Jockey Injured:Trainer slams Polytrack

'They are doing nothing about it', says angry trainer

Wayne Agrella was seriously injured while riding work today

Wayne Agrella was seriously injured while riding work today

The Fairview Polytrack facility has come in for scathing criticism from local trainer Mitch Wiese who says that horses are breaking down ‘left, right and centre.’ Wiese’s comments follow hot on the heels of an accident today (Monday) when experienced local jockey Wayne Agrella was rushed unconscious to hospital after a horse he was working broke down.

The outspoken Wiese was adamant that the polytrack was not compatible with the local climate, despite the fact that it was hailed as a success elsewhere.

“You can quote me. I am tired of asking the authorities to sort it out. They are doing nothing about the concerns. I have had horses breaking down and so have other trainers. There were 32 scratchings on Friday after the meeting was switched from the turf. Yes, they will say it is the draw but I hope my colleagues also stand up now and have their say,’ he said.

Agrella was riding a Steven Janse Van Rensburg horse when he fell this morning. Unconfirmed reports suggest that he has broken his collarbone and is in a serious condition.

Wiese said that it may well be argued that the horse Agrella was riding is a ‘cripple.’

“The fact is that many of the horses that land up in PE are unsound. That is not the point and should not be a reason for us to expose them to this track. There is 250 mm of the poly wax, then a layer of tar followed by concrete. It just isn’t working, but nobody is prepared to stand up and say let’s do something. Well, I am and I am convinced it is the climate,” he said.

Mitch Wiese not happy with Polytrack

Mitch Wiese not happy with Polytrack

Wiese trained Lady Bizhub to win on Friday and even in the post race interview he expressed his reservations.

“Just because the filly won, people probably expect me to go with the happy flow and be complimentary. I refuse. There is a problem and it needs attention,’ he said.

He said his friend Wayne Agrella was lying in hospital and he was grossly unhappy with the state of affairs.

Interestingly, it was reported recently that Keeneland Racecourse’s main track will return to dirt this summer.

The removal of the track’s synthetic Polytrack surface and installation of a “state-of-the-art” dirt track and draining system is expected to begin in May and will be completed by August.

The track, which installed Polytrack in the summer of 2006, will re-open for training in September. Keeneland’s 2014 Fall Meet begins in October

“Keeneland’s mission is to provide the highest level of racing possible, and in order to accomplish that goal going forward, a dirt surface is preferable,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said.

“This dirt track will be a “next-generation” surface, the most extensively researched and most sophisticated in North America. We believe that with the new materials and research available to us today we can build a world-class dirt track that is as safe as our synthetic surface for horses and riders. Their safety absolutely remains our top priority.”

Two races were held on 25 October on the Fairview polytrack and the first full polytrack meeting was held in December last year.

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