ALBURY Racing Club has been left reeling from a snap morning thunderstorm which left its recently upgraded track unfit for the biggest meeting of the year.
The Gold Cup meeting was officially postponed by stewards at 12.45pm on Friday and then later abandoned after 23 millimetres of rain was dumped on the track in a 20-minute burst mid-morning.
About 6000 racegoers had already made their way to the track for the unprecedented sight of a helicopter hovering over five wet sections of the track in a last-ditch bid to dry them out.
Club president Mark Cronin was hoping it could secure an "appropriate" replacement meeting.
"It is very difficult and there are a lot of ducks you have to line-up for a day like this," he said.
"Ideally we would like to run our cup day."
The club and Racing NSW are trying to re-schedule the even at a later date.
Mr Cronin accepted stewards were left with no other choice than to postpone the meeting on safety grounds.
"There were a couple of areas there I have to concede had the potential to be unsafe," he said.
"It is just not worth a jockey being injured, a horse being injured, or worse.
"When you are on top of a one-tonne animal travelling at significant speed and it slips, you are in trouble."
Mr Cronin has been on the ARC committee for almost 30 years and can't remember a cup meeting being called off and SDRA steward of 45 years, Daryl McLean, couldn't recall either an Albury or Wagga cup being postponed under similar circumstances.
Jockey Grant Buckley, who was due to ride past winner Green Sweet in the cup, accompanied stewards on the track inspection before the decision was made to postpone.
"It was unfortunate they had so much rain and it hasn't had a chance to get away," he said.
"The track was so inconsistent.
"If it is not a consistent gallop right through the track that is when horses start to stumble.
"We've all walked the track and it just wasn't safe."
Chief steward John Davidson said the meeting would have been called off earlier had it not been the Gold Cup race day.
He said a section near the 800m mark was the worst of the rain-affected parts.
"It would take 24 to 36 hours to dry out," he said.
"We were left with no choice and as you can see we had a helicopter over the track and gave it every opportunity.
"The track is just not safe for racing."
After a sustained dry period, the track was lightly watered on Wednesday ahead of the City Handicap meeting on Thursday which was held on a good 4 rating.
The track was downgraded to a heavy 10 after the mid-morning downpour yesterday.
"I cannot make a comment on whether the track should have coped," Mr Davidson said.
Racing NSW's Scott Kennedy said: "I am disappointed the meeting could not be run, notwithstanding that 23mm in that short time period is significant.
"We will determine any remediation that is required, to enable the track to better handle rain such as today's.
"We will work with the club to find a suitable date to run the Albury Cup and save the prizemoney for the participants."
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