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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

In jeopardy: future of Flat racing at Ballinrobe to be reviewed on Monday

Ballinrobe: forced to abandon racing on Monday after three races
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The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is organising a meeting between all relevant bodies to review the viability of Flat racing at Ballinrobe following the cancellation of Monday’s meeting after three races.

The fixture was abandoned by stewards when seven senior jockeys raised safety concerns after horses slipped on the ground, prompting clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer to cast doubt on the future of Flat racing at the track.

Paul Murtagh, head of racing operations with the IHRB, said on Tuesday: “We’re in the process of setting up a meeting, which will probably take place next Monday and will involve all relevant parties – Ballinrobe, jockeys, trainers, IHRB officials and Horse Racing Ireland – to see what happens next.

“No rash decisions will be made. We’ll gather all the facts, hear what everyone has to say and then make the most appropriate decision.”

Following the running of the third race on Monday, the stewards received a delegation of riders regarding the safety of the racing surface.

They heard evidence from Chris Hayes, Declan McDonogh, Kevin Manning, Shane Foley, Colm O’Donoghue, Gary Carroll and Gary Halpin, who stated that while the course was well presented and laid out, the surface of the track was giving way underfoot after rain over the weekend on top of fast ground.

Colm O'Donoghue: one of the jockeys who gave advice on Monday evening
The riders claimed that the conditions were causing their mounts to slip and that, in their opinion, it was not safe to continue racing and that the application of sand would not improve the situation.

Evidence was also heard from clerk of the course Wyer, racecourse manager John Flannelly and from a group of trainers. Having considered all the evidence, the acting stewards used their powers under Rule 10 (i) to order the abandonment of the remainder of the meeting in the interests of safety.

Following that decision, Wyer said: "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."

Monday’s meeting was the final Flat fixture of the year at the Co Mayo track.

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No rash decisions will be made. We’ll gather all the facts, hear what everyone has to say and then make the most appropriate decision

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