Rain, heavy load expose track’s fragility
THE battered Doomben track was put in the spotlight in front of a national audience as jockeys labelled the back section unsafe, unravelling Saturday's dual Group 1 meeting.
It came on the anniversary of last year's Kingsford Smith Cup meeting, where Kerrin McEvoy labelled Eagle Farm the worst track he had ridden on.
Saturday's near two-hour delay came as a direct result of the fallout from that day, with Doomben forced to carry the workload of two tracks over three of the past four years.
Doomben's track staff have rightly been praised for the way they have prepared the Doomben surface, but a spit of rain and the toll from heavy racing over previous months exposed how fragile the venue has become.
Craig Williams told stewards the back straight was unsafe after falling from his stricken mount Mischievousmarilyn in the BRC Sires Produce Stakes.
He wasn't alone, with several other leading jockeys confirming their trepidation about running over that section.
After a 45-minute inspection of the track with jockeys including Williams, Jim Byrne and Kerrin McEvoy, stewards made the extraordinary decision to move the rail out 2m to allow the meeting to proceed.
"We were hoping the light roller would make the track a bit better. I don't think it has," chief steward Allan Reardon told jockeys.
"The only two alternatives are that you can go out there and find your own course, or we put the rail out.
"That's our decision. I will be telling the course manager to put the rail out."
Jockeys described the back straight as being like "a ploughed paddock" while others likened it to a minefield.
Track staff worked feverishly after Reardon's order to move the rail and amazingly, the remainder of the card was able to be run, albeit the final event in near darkness.
BRC chairman Neville Bell praised the effort of staff in being able to cater for the rail movement, but accepted the action stewards took.
"Welfare of horses and participants is paramount and thankfully, we have been able to accommodate the move and have the rest of the meeting run safely," Bell said.
"It should be noted no trainers scratched their horses after the incident, so it was clearly just a small section of the track that came under scrutiny''.