Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Ground forces Navan to abandon

Ruby Walsh leads the jockeys back after inspecting the track

Navan was called off in the middle of the afternoon after concerns were expressed about the state of the ground on parts of the course.

Four races had been run on the hurdles track, but there had been instances of horses slipping and a halt was called ahead of the feature race of the fixture, the Albany Hurdle.

A deputation of jockeys inspected the problem ground, among them Barry Geraghty, Ruby Walsh and Davy Condon, while trainer Noel Meade was also involved in the discussion before the decision to abandon was taken "in the interests of safety".

Meade, who was due to saddle the favourite Silver Tassie in the fifth race on the card, was fully supportive of the decision.

"Any time you have to make decisions like that it is tough, but I was with them on the track and I'm 100% behind them on this one," he told At The Races.

"It's nobody's fault. The ground got very firm in the summer, they watered to make it as good as they could, but the water just penetrated the top two inches. We had a shower of rain and only the top two inches had moisture in it, under that it is very firm, so they were knocking the top off it and just sliding."

Clerk of the course Paddy Graffin said: "Davy Russell and Barry Geraghty came up to me after the first to say how pleased they were with the ground, but unfortunately it got more slippy as the day went on. Ruby said to me after his winner in the fourth race that his mount didn't slip, but he could see plenty slipping inside him.

"Under the guidelines we use, the ground would have been unraceable if it wasn't watered as firm ground is deemed unraceable for National Hunt racing. We had the ground verti-drained with a spiking machine, which allows water and air to get into the ground.

"We've had a particularly dry summer and I have an obligation to water in order to make the ground safe. It is obviously a concern looking ahead as we have lots of big races here between now and Christmas, and I would love to see lots of rain.

"I suggested to the riders that we inspect the course, and I believe this was the sensible decision. I'm not one to take chances."

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