15mm from catastrophe

Racing Club president John Miller on a wet track at Albury yesterday that led to the club’s race meeting being abandoned. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

Racing Club president John Miller on a wet track at Albury yesterday that led to the club’s race meeting being abandoned. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

JUST 15 millimetres of rain was all it took to abandon yesterday’s races at Albury.

Club chief executive John Miller said it was damning proof of the urgent need for a new irrigation and drainage system at the home of the Border’s biggest race day.

He said had it happened on Albury Gold Cup Day it would have been a catastrophe.

The seven-race card was abandoned at 11.30am, 1½ hours before the first race and just an hour into a deluge that ended up dumping 25 millimetres in two hours.

Surface water between the 1300 metres and 1000 metres made the track unsafe and, for the second time this year, forced the club to abandon a meeting.

Miller said meetings would remain in the lap of the gods until a drainage system was installed.

“There is no drainage system so the water just sits on the track,” he said.

“We need one installed and put in a request for funding to Racing NSW two years ago.”

“We need drainage and the irrigation system also needs to be fixed.

“Today just highlights what can happen without it — we get a couple of hours of rain like we did and we lose a race meeting.”

Murrumbidgee Turf Club recently completed $500,000 drainage works on the entire circumference of its 2200-metre track funded by Racing NSW.

“We are fighting to get some funding to get the works done,” Miller said.

“We have got the support of the local racing people and we are just trying to convince Racing NSW that it needs to be done urgently.

“Racing NSW is aware of our situation but at the moment we are on a waiting list like several clubs.

“We were lucky the predicted rain didn’t eventuate before the Albury Gold Cup because we wouldn’t have been able to race and it would have been a financial disaster.”

The club also lost its opening meeting of the season in August in similar circumstances.

Yesterday’s meeting has been rescheduled for Friday.

“If we were forced to abandon the meeting, the club would lose in the vicinity of about $10,000,” he said.

“But it also has a significant impact on the industry participants.

“The prizemoney doesn’t get distributed to the local owners and trainers and the jockeys don’t get paid when they don’t ride.”

Trials at Wangaratta yesterday were also abandoned after the fourth trial because of poor visibility and the state of the track.

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