Twenty-four hours on from the decision to abandon the Group One raceday at Trentham after just one race due to safety issues caused by the slippery nature of the track, trainer Allan Sharrock is still trying to get his head around the circumstances that caused the cancellation.
Sharrock, who had seen the last four races abandoned at his local New Plymouth meeting on Thursday, due to rainfall during the meeting that caused the track to become slippery and hazardous for both horse and rider, was left shaking his head that the same thing had happened again despite the warning he had given officials at New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.
Sharrock was disappointed in the result at New Plymouth and when he saw the forecast rain for Trentham on Friday night and Saturday morning, he had the uneasy feeling that the scenario could be repeated, so he made a call to local stipendiary steward Neil Goodwin.
“I saw what happened at our local track and knew that it was pretty firm at Trentham as well and when I saw the forecast for the weekend, I thought it was a recipe for disaster,” Sharrock said.
“I got on the blower to Neil Goodwin and asked him what they were doing to prepare for the eventuality that Trentham got rain that could turn it into a skating rink.
“He told me they had applied 8mls of irrigation, but in my experience that was never going to be enough.
“I then rang my brother Bruce, who is the Chief Operating Officer at NZTR and spoke with him about it.
“I know he spoke with CEO Bernard Saundry, but I don’t know what happened after that.
“I see at Matamata they had similar concerns and they applied 34mls to prepare for it.
“They ended up racing on a Slow7 and then a Slow9 later in the day, which isn’t ideal at this time of the year, but at least they got through the meeting and it was safe.
“I just can’t understand Trentham, if a silly old trainer like me can see the problem coming, how could they get it so wrong.”
Ironically Sharrock had been looking to see the track come up in the slow bracket as he had noted wet-track performer Justaskme entered in the feature event, the Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m).
“I had actually been hoping all week to see the rain come as I thought we were half a chance on a wet track with Justaskme,” he said.
“However, that is by the by as this is a disaster for our Industry and something has to happen.
“It’s not as if we are going that well we can afford to lose a raceday that probably would have generated NZD$1.5million in turnover and valuable returns to owners, jockeys, trainers and everyone else involved in putting the day on.
“People also don’t see the hidden costs to us all, the costs it took to get there and back for everyone and things like that.”
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing announced on Sunday that a full investigation involving the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute and the Racing Integrity Board would be implemented into the circumstances which resulted in the abandonment.
“NZ Sports Turf Institute will commence a track review tomorrow (Monday) morning, inspecting both the track and the data and reports from the Racing and Track managers,” NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said.
“We have also requested a full report from the Racing Integrity Board regarding the procedures leading up to and following the first race on Saturday.”
With the Group One feature now scheduled to be run at Te Rapa this coming Saturday, Sharrock will turn his attention to that meeting with Justaskme.
“We took him (Justaskme) home and we’ll get him right for a trip up north to Te Rapa,” he said.
“The weather forecast during the week is pretty bleak so we could be in the box seat again if it plays out how they are predicting.
“I will also have Our Hail Mary entered in the Cal Isuzu Stakes (Group 2, 1600m) so it could be a big day for us.”
Sharrock also reported that fan favourite Tavi Mac had been treated for an issue with his back and was bouncing around the stable in preparation for a tilt at the Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni on December 18, a race he took out in 2020.