Racing: Catterick called off after chaos on track

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The Independent Online
RACING AT Catterick yesterday was abandoned in controversial circumstances after the running of the first race in which one horse broke a leg and only three of the eight starters completed the course. There will be an 8am inspection to see if today's meeting can take place.

Jockeys who rode in the opening race claimed that the ground was unsafe and the stewards' secretary, Robert Earnshaw, explained: "Several jockeys expressed concern and so a deputation of three stewards, two stewards' secretaries, four jockeys and several trainers inspected the course. The stewards decided that the meeting should be abandoned in the interests of safety."

The clerk of the course, Charles Enderby, said: "I had walked the track several times since 6am and the last time, at midday, I went round with the chairman of the stewards' panel, Dr Kerr, and we decided that racing could go ahead."

The opening race, a novices' chase, was won by the 20-1 chance The Khoinoa. The Ferdy Murphy-trained Coolaw broke a leg at the 12th fence and his rider, Adrian Maguire, said: "I said to the lads on the first circuit `this ground is not fit'.

"My horse slipped right into the fence and he did not have a chance to save himself at the back because he was slipping and sliding into it. There is definitely frost in the ground."

Murphy felt, however, that the unfortunate accident could have occurred at any course.

Mick Fitzgerald's mount, the odds-on Kingsmark, fell two fences out when disputing the lead and the jockey said: "I travelled round on the inner throughout and I slipped twice both times coming into the straight, but whether that was due to the camber I don't know.

"I am not blaming the ground for my horse's fall, there did not seem to be any frost where I rode, but Adrian Maguire and Graham Lee said they were slipping like crazy. They were out in the middle where there was snow and what not, and if they felt it wasn't safe then it wasn't safe."