A glaring oversight in what should surely be a routine safety check process has been exposed after a shocking accident at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Wednesday.
When the starter sprung the gates for the third race, he sent horses and riders directly into the danger zone.
We put our lives in others hands every day. Especially on 11 September.
When you lie on the operating table, or even when buckling up on that Mango flight to Joburg, you have taken it for granted that the safety checks have been done – including clearance of foreign objects and oil slicks of whatever nature from the runway. It’s not the kind of thing you are able to do yourself.
Jockeys are known to walk the track before racemeetings, in instances of weather concerns or even an unfamiliarity with the track.
But the Pietermaritzburg weather was beautiful on Wednesday and there was no reason for a red flag.
The first two races down the straight went off without incident.
The third race was the first round the turn. Watch it here:
The official stipes report tells what happened:
Approaching the 800 metre mark TWICE GOLDEN stumbled badly dislodging Jockey A Mgudlwa. As a result BAYVIEW EXPRESS (*A Arries) in attempting to jump the fallen rider, fell, dislodging Apprentice A Arries. Simultaneously JARENE (*T Gumede) stumbled, became unbalanced and was eased. Thereafter DUTCH ALLEY (K de Melo), BROOKLYN (*L Ferraris), LIGHTNING PARCADOR (E Ngwane), POWER TO COMMAND (S Moodley), QUATRO FIVE SIX (S Brown) and YUKTA’S DANCE (W Kennedy) were hampered, switched out and raced wide on the bend from the 800 metre mark.As a result of taking evasive action due to the above incident, the saddle on QUATRO FIVE SIX (S Brown) slipped sideways
Following a report from the NHRA Veterinary Surgeon a track inspection was carried out on an area of the track on the bend near the inside running rail.
Following this inspection a decision was made to move a section of the running rail out approximately 5 metres to avoid the area of concern. This caused a delay to the running of Race 4.
The inspection of the track revealed a clearly visible wet patch with divots, which probably led to the accident.
An angry trainer said it was time for the NHRA and the Racing Operator to tell the industry and the racing public how they had permitted a race to be run in dangerous circumstances.
“The patch was wet and dangerous.Whether it was caused by irrigation or a pipe leaking, the blunt fact is that when the all clear is given for the start of the race, it is based on a blind man having done nothing. No senior officials from the regulator or the operator have inspected the track. The jockeys are riding in the dark and this accident could so easily have resulted in death for horse or rider. Racing doesn’t need this kind of publicity. But heads need to roll and we are going to demand answers. Too many jobs are being protected,” said the trainer.
The Sporting Post has learnt this morning that the bills for the veterinary care for the injured horses will be handed to Gold Circle for payment.
“We may regard ourselves as a first world racing jurisdiction but we are in reality closer to third world. We need the Australians out here to come and teach us the basics. And what about the knock-on effect of the delay in timetable and the potential reputational damage for SA racing in the eyes of international viewers?”
The Sporting Post mailed the NHRA and Gold Circle yesterday immediately after the race to attempt to determine whether any inspections are ever carried out ahead of racemeetings. We also asked whose responsibility the matter was and whether an inquiry would be opened.
We have had no response.
The official stipes report makes no reference to any corrective action being taken either.
We hear that on Sunday at Hollywoodbets Scottsville, the jockeys will not ride without clearance and assurances that a process is in place.
Next time you buckle up and get set for take-off on that flight to Joburg, just hope and pray that people have done their jobs and fixed that crater in the runway.
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