Grafton Races abandoned after hail storm

Horses are barely visible in a hail storm white out during race four at Grafton on Thursday, 9th September, 2015.
Horses are barely visible in a hail storm white out during race four at Grafton on Thursday, 9th September, 2015.

THREE jockeys and the clerk of the course were thrown from their horses in a hail storm at Grafton Racecourse.

The weather event hit during race four - a 1420m class three handicap - at 1.30pm Thursday.

Staggering video of the race call has gone viral on social media with Grafton trending on Twitter across Australia.

Ben Looker (uninjured), Jasen Watkins (suspected broken wrist) and Darren Jones ( back discomfort) were returning to scale when they dislodged from their horses by spooked horses.

Clerk of the course Alan Watkins was also thrown from his mount and taken to hospital with facial lacerations.


"The actual race jumped prior to the storm hitting and the storm hit during the course of the race," Clarence River Jockey Club executive officer Michael Beattie said.

"It must've just started to rain when the starter's pushed the button and they basically raced into the teeth of the storm and were virtually indistinguishable by the time they got to the turn.  

"The hail started when the horses were in the straight, and a few horses took fright returning to scale and a number of jockeys were dislodged."

 Stewards, jockeys and race committee members inspected the track at 1.45pm and 2.15pm  and the race meeting was subsequently abandoned.

 "While we found the track was not significantly waterlogged, the ice hadn't melted and was too slippery to continue the meeting," Beattie said.  

"In discussions with Racing NSW there was no suitable date to run rest of the meeting, so the remainder of meeting has been abandoned."

Due to a high number of acceptances the meeting had been extended from the usual eight to 10.

It was also one of just two of the club's 25 meetings in the season scheduled by Racing NSW as a stand alone Thursday TAB meeting, the other being Grafton Cup on July 14, 2016.

As a result of the six abandoned races the club will miss out on a significant boost in revenue from TAB turnover.

"It's an absolute tragedy for everybody involved," Beattie said.

Topics:  editors picks grafton racecourse horses racing

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