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Monday, 19 November, 2018

St Moritz chief vows to boost safety and win back the faith

Racing will return to the frozen lake at St Moritz next month
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Annina Widmer, the new head of racing for the St Moritz 'White Turf' meeting, has conceded work must be done to regain the confidence of racing professionals following the horrific pile-up on the Swiss track's frozen lake in which top jockey George Baker last year suffered career-ending injuries.

Baker was seriously hurt when two horses fell in front of his ill-fated mount Boomerang Bob inside the final furlong of a race during a February festival that in recent years has been blighted by a number of accidents.

Following the resignation of chief executive Silvio Martin Staub, racing duties have been assumed by Widmer, under whose leadership major work has been carried out with the aim of preventing a repeat of what happened in 2017, when cracks occurred in the ice.

For next month's fixtures an infrared camera fixed on a drone will be used to detect any spots where water could possibly have risen between the ice and the snow cover, while a radar device will provide direct information about irregularities of the track.

"It will be much safer because we won't take any risks," said Widmer.

"In the past we've had non-runners because trainers didn't want to take risks. I think we'll now listen more to their opinion if they say we shouldn't be racing. However, we still cannot guarantee the weather. If there are very warm temperatures or a lot of snow we will have to cancel the races.

"We do continue to have support from those trainers, like John Best, who have been coming for several years, but we lost the support of those trainers who were involved with incidents. There are only two horses from Britain entered in this year's Grand Prix; I still hope we have runners in other races, though."

Widmer added: "I spoke to trainers at the sales in Newmarket and some told me that they wanted to wait for a year or two to see how things go.

"I can understand that they are worried about coming. Now we have to do our best to win back people's confidence."

Racing resumes at St Moritz on Sunday, February 4.


George Baker opens up to Alastair Down about his enforced retirement

Trainers raise concern with racing surface after St Moritz pile-up

George Baker gives first interview since St Moritz fall


 

In the past we have had non-runners because trainers didn't want to take risks. I think we will now listen more to their opinion.
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