An early morning track inspection on Sunday at Ballarat will decide the fate of the showpiece Grand National Steeplechase meeting, 24 hours after atrocious weather caused the abandonment of Saturday’s fixture at The Valley.
Racing Victoria stewards on Saturday inspected the Ballarat track — currently rated a Heavy 10 — ahead of six scheduled jumps races on Sunday, including the feature JJ Houlahan Hurdle.
Stewards will return to the course early on Sunday to make a final ruling amid forecasts of more rain on an already drenched track.
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The Valley meeting was called off after five of nine races.
Stewards decided it was unsafe to continue after jockeys had weighed out for the Listed Mitchell McKenzie (1200m) before worsening conditions prompted a track inspection with senior riders.
Luke Nolen after stewards abandoned the meeting.Source:Supplied
Damien Oliver returns from a track inspection.Source:Supplied
“We’ve had a lot of heavy rain,” chairman of stewards Robert Cram said.
“We’ve inspected the track with the senior riders and we’re all in agreeance that the track is not safe to continue on.
“The soil is waterlogged, we’ve got a lot of surface water. There’s three sections of the track where we’ve got water running across the track.
“Other parts of the track, it’s just so waterlogged that the horses won’t get good footing.
“Unfortunately we can’t progress, had the rain stopped and backed off we would have been a chance but the track’s been deteriorating since race 1.
“We’ve been keeping a close eye on it but unfortunately it’s just reached the stage where it’s not safe to continue on.”
Jockeys were adamant it was dangerous to continue after three of the races decided featured gaping margins on yielding ground.
Daniel Stackhouse called it a “real New Zealand heavy track” after Roland Garros served up a surprise win at The Valley.Source:Getty Images
Kiwi Daniel Stackhouse, who won on Roland Garros by five lengths, said: “Very heavy conditions. A real New Zealand heavy track today.”
Persistent rain saw The Valley track downgraded from a Soft 7 to a Heavy 10 after the third race.
The deteriorating conditions prompted 10 late scratchings. The Mitchell McKenzie Stakes was left with only four of its original nine starters before the meeting was called off.
Moonee Valley chief executive Michael Browell said he would discuss the prospect of rescheduling the Listed Mitchell McKenzie Stakes and Carlyon Stakes at other meeting during the spring.
The nine-race Wangaratta meeting was completed in Heavy 9 conditions.
RV will inspect the Moe track early Sunday morning. The track rating was on Saturday a Heavy 9.
The Bordertown meeting has already been abandoned.
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Dwayne Dunn after senior riders inspected the surface halfway through the meeting.Source:Supplied
TAB BIG BETS
Punters were sent packing in the Happy 60th Birthday Pete Handicap (1523m) when the well tried Widgee Turf and Coming Around couldn’t get the job done.
Coming Around ($1.90-$2.45) drifted all week after opening at $1.80 on Wednesday, however, the gelding still held more than any other runner. The late push came for Widgee Turf ($4-$3.60-$3.70) which nearly held as much as the fav. Between the pair they held 75 per cent of the total investment.
Alsvin ($12-$9.50) wasn’t totally friendless and did attract some handy each way investments. The six-year-old led throughout to upset Coming Around.
BETS: Coming Around $2,000 @ $2.40, $1,200 @ $2.40, $1,000 @ $2.30
BETS: Widgee Turf $1,000 @ $4, $7,500 @ $3.70, $3,000 @ $3.70 TWICE
BETS: Odeon $1,500 @ $6, $1,000 @ $6
One of the best supported runners all day was Tailleur.
The James Cummings-trained mare was a heavily supported commodity in the Dr Sheahan Plate (1200m) despite being a short-priced favourite.
Opening at $2.60 on Wednesday, she was backed almost immediately but today $1.55 was on the table after the scratchings of How Womantic and Southbank.
TAB customers were more than happy to take the price about Tailleur who gave her backers no cause for concern, leading throughout for a very comfortable win.
Tailleur held approximately 70 per cent of the market.
BETS: Tailleur $2,000 @ $1.65, $2,000 @ $1.60 MULTIPLE TIMES, $1,000 @ $1.60 MULTIPLE TIMES, $10,000 @ $1.55, $6,000 @ $1.55, $2,500 @ $1.55, $2,250 @ $1.55, $2,206 @ $1.55, $1,700 @ $1.55, $1,200 @ $1.55, $1,000 @ $1.55 MULTIPLE TIMES
Jenni’s Rainbow was a costly conveyance in the third event on the card.
Going around with nearly three times as much money as anything else, Jenni’s Rainbow ($3.20) could only manage fourth after making her run wider on the track.
Dirty Thoughts ($8-$7), which attracted some strong each way investment, proved too strong for the leader Clean Machine ($5.50) after sitting outside that horse for the majority of the race.
BETS: Jenni’s Rainbow $5,000 @ $3.20, $1,350 @ $3.20, $1,000 @ $3.20
There was some specking at a price for Roland Garros to take out the Inglis 2021 Yearling Sale Entries Handicap (2500m).
Opening the day as a $41 chance, Roland Garros attracted some investment at the big price to see him bottom out at $23 before jumping at $26.
Daniel Stackhouse rated the six-year-old perfectly and the pair handled the conditions best to race away to score at double figure odds.
The big disappointments here were the heavily supported favourites in High Emocean ($2.60) and Kentucky Tornado ($3.80-$2.90) which held 66 per cent of the money between them.
BETS: High Emocean $1,935 @ $2.60, $2,000 @ $2.50, $1,300 @ $2.50
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Originally published asValley washed away but further damage forecast
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