Ekka races run despite heavy rain
Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 11:15 am
Torrential overnight rain and overcast conditions couldn’t keep the crowd away from Eagle Farm racecourse, with more than 15,000 flocking to the annual Exhibition races.
The popular event had been in serious doubt, the track rated a ‘heavy 10’ by Wednesday morning.
Brisbane Racing Club chief executive Stephen Ferguson said the meeting had come very close to being cancelled, “I was very, very worried Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
“Surprisingly the track got just over four inches of rain…and when we had a look at it Wednesday morning before the stewards’ inspection, it was actually in a lot better condition than we hoped.” He said.
“We also had two big stages ready to go that caved in, where the canvas roofs filled with water and collapsed so we had to re-organise some things at the last minute.
“We usually attract 20,000 however I think the weather turned a few away,” he said.
Mr. Ferguson said the behaviour of the crowd was the best he’s seen for Exhibition Wednesday.
“We’re starting to get a better handle on it. We have an enormous amount of security and police on hand and we have responsible drinking policies…to reduce the binge,” he said.
Despite the rain-affected track being declared safe to gallop on, a few horses found the boggy ground too much, some labouring in the heavy going.
Local trainer Brian Smith watched as his promising mare Moncalieri was steered towards the outside fence by jockey Chris Munce, in search of better ground in the first race.
“Gee it’s wet all right,” Smith said as horse and rider returned to scale after finishing fifth.
He later made up for the loss by winning the $75,000 AB Sinclair Handicap with the talented 5-year-old gelding, Meet George.
It was also a big day for young Mitchell Wood, the 17-year-old apprentice jockey having his first ride at a Metropolitan class meeting.
“I thought I was going to get there,” Wood said after his mount stormed home late in race three to run second to Shedaboss.
This year’s event gave punters the chance to win an iPad each race by finding the jockey decked out in Nova logos. A trip to Thailand for four people was up for grabs in the losing-ticket barrel.