Ballarat's return to racing washed out

BALLARAT Turf Club chief executive Lachlan McKenzie says measures will be taken to try and avoid a repeat of the issue that caused Sunday’s long-awaited return meeting to be cancelled.

Racing was set to make its way back to the Ballarat track after more than six months away from the venue, but was abandoned at 7.25am by stewards because of extensive surface water in areas of the home straight.

McKenzie said the issue was related to heavy rain that fell on the area renovated to remove the dip in the straight.

“Basically from the home turn to the winning post there has been significant soil disturbance and that soil has been compacted and means when we get a lot of rain in a short period of time – we probably had 20mm in 5-6 hours – it takes too long to drain through the soil. It’s just surface water and can’t get away,” he said.

“The rest of the track is 100 per cent and we could have raced without any problems at all, but it was just from the point of the turn to the winning post.”

McKenzie said the club would look at finding a way to artificially speed up the drainage process.

The club’s next scheduled meeting is on Thursday, June 19.

McKenzie said the cancellation was “more than disappointing.”

“We had massive bookings – over 500 for lunch pre-booked – and the expectation was for about 2000 walk-ups, plus all the effort that has gone into marketing and planning for that day,” he said.

The abandonment of the meeting meant the extensive family activities, including a snow machine, did not go ahead as planned.

Ballarat trainer Dan O’Sullivan galloped a horse on the track on Sunday morning and declared it was the right decision to call off the meeting.

The club has not raced at the track since Ballarat Cup Day in November last year following a $1.5million upgrade.

tim.oconnor@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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