top of page

Bre Races cancellation a worry for other western clubs

After cancelling due to a wet track in May last year, President of the Brewarrina Jockey Club, Tim Slack-Smith had to contend with a stewards cancellation due to a ‘dangerous track’. Photo TWH

Country race clubs have been warned that their future may be at risk following the cancellation of the Bre Races on Saturday – when one of the biggest local events on the calendar was stopped in its tracks.

More than 60 horses, as well as jockeys, trainers, and hundreds of patrons, were already inside the grounds when a Racing NSW steward deemed a section of the rack past the finishing post as unsafe and called the races off.

Brewarrina Race Club President, Tim Slack-Smith, said the decision was devastating, and warned that every dirt track race club in the region could face the same fate, including Louth, Enngonia, and Bourke.

He said after months of work by the committee, improved facilities, and work on the track surface, there was no recourse on the day to remediate the area to allow the races to go ahead.

“We had all the indications throughout the week, right up to an hour before first race, that there was no problem,” Mr Slack-Smith said.

“The Racing NSW track steward turned up and had a quick look with an amateur jockey and deemed the surface too dangerous to race.

“He was referring to a 100 square metre section about 150 metres from the finish post. I tried to come up with solutions on the spot with the equipment we had on hand - we had the council and every option to make it happen, but in the steward’s mind it was deemed unrepairable and within 15 minutes of him arriving, it was decided.

“We were devastated because the track was in better shape than it’s ever been.

“The jockeys and trainers couldn’t understand why the decision was made and I consider it disrespectful to people with experience in horses and with the nature of the soil in the area.

“If we thought it was unsafe, we would not have entertained the idea of running the horses out,” he said.

Mr Slack-Smith said promises that the steward, Jack Prior, would be available to assess the track earlier in the week were not kept.

“I called on Friday the week before, following the cancellation at Quambone and was told that Quambone was an exception. The steward had looked at the track over Easter between the Lightning Ridge and Bourke races and said it was fine, and then promised he would be out on the Tuesday of the week leading into the races.

“I was told he couldn’t come out after all, so I videoed the track showing every furlong marker at the 200, 400 and 600 metre mark and sent it to him and he said it was in excellent order and he didn’t see any issues.

“We were out there in the days before the race with the digger and filled areas that we thought might need some attention and we were given every indication we were right to go,” he said.

Mr Slack-Smith said he didn’t blame the steward, who had limited experience in the racing industry and was unfamiliar with the soils of the area.

“He was inexperienced and said there were cracks and holes in the surface.[…]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

To subscribe call (02) 6872 2333 today and receive The Western Herald in your letterbox next week!


bottom of page