Fashion reigns as rain ruins racing
Monday, 21st March, 2011
For the only the second time in its 46 year history, rain forced the cancellation of racing at the St Pat's Races on Saturday.
Organisers, who were cautiously predicting late in the week that the track would dry out in time for the races, were dealt a blow when it rained overnight on Friday.
Despite frantic attempts to clear the top layers of dirt off the saturated track, club president Margaret Corradini said it was eventually deemed unsafe to race on at 12.15pm.
Ms Corradini, who said that stewards delayed their decision to cancel for as long as possible in the hope the track would get up, said she understood the cancellation had caused some frustration.
"As a club we understand the frustration of trainers, owners and jockeys that had travelled great distances to be in Broken Hill," Ms Corradini said.
"We understand the frustration of the general public who wanted to see some live racing but unfortunately we cannot combat mother nature."
It is only the second time rain has forced the cancellation of racing at St Pats, which was held earlier than usual this year.
In 1984 the meeting was moved to the following Monday but Mrs Corradini said that was not possible this year.
"The difference being the 2,000 people we had booked in the Pavilion, Marquees and Picnic sites with many being catered for and the issue of being a TAB meeting.
"We also had to take into account the forecast of further rain."
She said some 15mm of rain fell at the racecourse on Friday and the early hours of Saturday morning which, combined with showers earlier in the week, meant sections of the track were under water.
"The stewards gave us every opportunity to get the meeting up, they carried out inspections from 7am through until 12 noon, they heard our position and that of the trainers and jockeys but in the end the track was deemed unsafe for racing."
Despite the late cancellation thousands of locals and visitors flocked to the racecourse for what turned into a giant picnic day and fashion event.
While crowd numbers were down, Ms Corradini said that financially the club has been buoyed by the response from sponsors, many of whom have told the club to carry their sponsorship over to next year.
"I have spoken with several of them and they have thrown their support behind the club and we will continue those discussion in coming days.
"As for the bottom line we will have a clearer picture of that over the next couple of weeks."
All other activities associated with the race meeting went ahead including the fashions of the field - and a high heels race on the track.
Bookmakers who were fielding on interstate races remained while the TOTE operated throughout the day. One bookmaker, Doug Carroll, said the lack of local horses didn't impact his takings dramatically.
A grateful Ms Corradini had a simple message for the thousands who attended: "I don't know how many times or in how many ways I can say it but thank you all."
For those people who were lucky enough to draw a horse in the Club sweep, the club, after consulting with stewards, has decided the prize money will be divided amongst the 10 ticket holders.