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Ballinrobe abandoned due to concerns over safety of the ground

The images on the screens around Ballinrobe following news of the card being abandoned
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The future of Flat racing at Ballinrobe could be in jeopardy after the abandonment of Monday's fixture midway through the card owing to riders' concerns about the safety of the ground.

Following the third race at the dual purpose Mayo venue seven senior riders entered the stewards' room and, after deliberations with them and a number of trainers, the stewards called off meeting at roughly 6.35 while runners were in the parade ring for the 6.20.

Clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer explained the decision meant the track could potentially face a precarious future regarding its hosting of Flat fixtures.

"The riders expressed concerns that a couple of horses were slipping and there was a delegation who went to the stewards' room. Having consulted with all the relevant parties, which included racecourse manager John Flannelly and the trainers, the stewards decided to abandon the meeting."

He added: "Although I have to speak to John about this first, this decision actually puts the future of Flat racing at Ballinrobe in jeopardy – it raises serious question marks about racing on the Flat here ever again.

Ground had dried out

"We shouldn't be making any rash decisions, but we'll have to go back to the race planning sector in Horse Racing Ireland and discuss the whole of next year's programme."

The going on Monday was described as yielding, yielding to soft, but it had dried out to good to yielding prior to the meeting getting underway.

Wyer explained: "We felt the track had been well prepared and that Cathal the foreman had produced a really nice track. The riders made reference to the fact there's been such a dry summer and that it's quick underneath. They felt the ground was shifting underneath them. We had some rain here at the weekend and maybe it's dried a bit today."

He added: "There were a number of senior riders involved in the decision and I am most definitely not disregarding their comments, because they are the guys going around the track, but the overall picture was that the ground was well-prepared here today. The stewards obviously had safety at the forefront of their decision."

Chris Hayes: "They had to do the right thing"
Chris Hayes, who won the second race, was one of the jockeys involved in the deliberations. He said: "It's unfortunate as they do a great job here, but when there are concerns they had to do the right thing."

Hayes was joined in the deputation to the stewards by Declan McDonogh, Colm O'Donoghue (winner of third race), Shane Foley (winner of the opener), Kevin Manning, Gary Carroll and Gary Haplin.

According to the stewards' report: "The riders stated that while the course was well presented and laid out, the surface of the track was giving way underfoot, which was causing their mounts to slip.

"In their opinion it was not safe to continue racing and the application of sand would not improve the situation."

'Incident reflects badly'

Flannelly expressed his disappointment, but accepted safety was at the forefront of all decisions.

"This is our third time over a good number of years that we have had to abandon a meeting for these reasons," he said. "You have a couple of thousand people out there who don't know anything about ground and this incident reflects badly on us.

"The public will leave here tonight wondering what is wrong with our ground and it doesn't look good on us."

Racegoers were handed a voucher for the next meeting at Ballinrobe as they left the course.

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This decision actually puts the future of Flat racing at Ballinrobe in jeopardy - it raises serious question marks
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