Yarmouth under fire after card abandoned.
Byline: Lewis Porteous
YARMOUTH last night came in for criticism after its long-awaited return to action proved shortlived when the course's third meeting of the year was abandoned after four races due to the "health and safety of the horses on the track".
Wet weather has been the track's nemesis since remedial work on the home straight started last September and a downpour yesterday afternoon had catastrophic effects that left the course with no choice but to abandon after horses slipped after crossing the line in the 1m2f handicap and jockeys Oisin Murphy and Luke Rowe were deposited on the turf.
While the general consensus of officials and horsemen was the incident could have happened at any track and was a consequence of heavy rain on fast ground, Group 1-winning rider Adam Kirby was critical in his assessment of the course, branding it "terrible".
After what turned out to be the last race of the track's three-day flagship meeting before an inspection, Kirby said: "It's unraceable and dangerous. It's an assault course - terrible. Horses shouldn't slip up like that on grass - it should never happen. Mine went down on his nose and two others fell. Call it off - it's not safe.
"There's big talk of the [home] turn and I don't like it when people are worrying about it before racing has even started. Three horses don't slip on a line and fall. One slipped yesterday and everyone needs to get home."
Last year's champion apprentice Oisin Murphy, who like Rowe and all the horses returned unscathed, was in the majority as he absolved clerk of the course Richard Aldous.
Murphy said: "Horses tend to slip on ground that has got a lot of rain and it's a bit quicker underneath. I respect Adam's view as he's a senior jockey but it's one of those things. Even sometimes at Bath horses can lose their hind end. I don't think the clerk of the course is responsible for my horse slipping. It's a weather issue."
On Yarmouth's biggest raceday of the year, there were plenty of representatives of the track's owners Arena Racing Company in attendance and they were adamant there had been no safety issues prior to the heavy rain.
Arc chairman David Thorpe said: "The forecast has been very volatile and you just can't tell. You have to go with what happens on the day. This was meant to come last night and now it's come this afternoon. You make decisions on the day and make decisions in the best interest of horses and jockeys. It's a new track. It takes time to understand it and get used to it."
Director of external affairs Susannah Gill said: "We have absolutely safe ground that was being praised by jockeys until the third race today. A rainstorm has caused that ground to become slippy and unsafe and therefore has led to the need to abandon."
Following a 5pm inspection, by which time the rain had become torrential, the course gave up hope of racing today, with the next 48 hours "crucial" for the prospect of Yarmouth's two remaining fixtures of 2015 scheduled for next month.
Newmarket trainer Chris Dwyer said: "Even after the second race my filly slipped pulling up and that was before the rain came. I think we will have to leave this track until next year." VVTALK of the Tracks, page 14