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Police investigating Kilmore track incident

Stakes were found in the ground at Kilmore racecourse.

Stakes were found in the ground at Kilmore racecourse.

© Racing.com

 

UPDATED: Victoria Police confirmed they are investigating an incident where two steel stakes were discovered in the turf at Kilmore racecourse on Thursday, hours out from a scheduled race meeting.

"Police are investigating following an incident at a race track on East Street, Kilmore today," a Victoria Police statement read.

"It’s understood a number of metal spikes were placed on the track.

"No people or animals were injured during the incident.

"Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000."

Earlier, the Kilmore Racing Club had demanded police involvement after their race meeting was abandoned on Thursday.

During a routine inspection of the track two hours before scheduled racing, Stewards found two steel stakes inserted into the turf course near the 400m mark, approaching the entrance to the home straight.

Consultation with race club officials determined that the steel stakes were not related to any maintenance equipment used on the track and that they had been placed as an attempt to sabotage the meeting.

A thorough inspection of the course took place which didn't find any other objects.

Consultation between Stewards, jockeys engaged to ride at the meeting, and race club officials decided to abandon the meeting to ensure the safety of horses and riders.

Kilmore Racing Club CEO Ben Murphy said that it would become a police matter.

"We're angry," Murphy said on Racing.com.

"We are not angry with the decision that has been made as we completely understand the need to look after the animal and the riders.

"What we are angry and perturbed by is that someone has taken the time to come out and do what they have done to the track, to do what we can only assume is, to create chaos.

"That leaves a really bitter taste in our mouths.

"It is certainly from our perspective a police matter and we will make contact with our local police this afternoon.

"We will work with the stewards with an investigation.

"We take this extremely seriously and we will leave no stone unturned to find out who has taken it upon themselves to do this."

Robert Cram, Racing Victoria's Chief Steward at the meeting, said that the steel stakes were found as per normal procedure prior to the staging of meetings in Victoria.

"Upon arrival today at the course, stewards inspecting the track found two steel posts which are approximately 40cm long," Cram said.

"There were two of them driven into the course proper, two metres off the running rail near the 400m.

"We have had discussions with the track manager and he responded that none of his staff would use such implements or resources around the track in recent times, and that it is not something that they have left them which does indicate that someone from outside of the club has entered and hammered them into the track.

"We did our best but unfortunately it is an immeasurable safety risk which the riders and stewards weren't prepared to take."

Cram said that it was a unanimous decision by all jockeys engaged to not proceed with the meeting.

"We did walk the track twice, we did the best that we could but under the circumstances the riders had extreme doubt due to the long grass that is here today that there wasn't any more of these which were just underneath the canopy of the grass."

Victorian Jockeys' Association executive officer Matthew Hyland said: "Thankfully the stewards and track staff picked it up and clearly the correct decision was made by all in the interests of jockey and equine safety given the uncertainty of this intent to cause damage being isolated to only one section of the track."

Scott Whiteman, Country Racing Victoria Chief Executive Officer, said that it was a sad day for racing.

"Country Racing Victoria, like all racing participants, customers and supporters, is sickened by the events surrounding the abandonment of today's races at Kilmore," Whiteman said.

"We all know the risks involved in thoroughbred racing and the bravery required of our jockeys every time they saddle up to ride.

"It is incomprehensible that anyone would seek to endanger them or their mounts.

"We commend the stewards for their diligence in uncovering this sabotage and, undoubtedly, saving human and equine lives as a result.

"Today is a sad day for the racing game.

"We will await a police investigation before commenting further."

RV Executive General Manager - Infrastructure and Clubs, Jamie McGuinness said: "It appears that this was an act of vandalism or sabotage which the Kilmore Racing Club has referred to Victoria Police to investigate. If that is the case then it was an irresponsible and dangerous act that has put the lives of both riders and horses at serious risk.

"Racing Victoria will work with the Kilmore Racing Club and Victoria Police to help find the person or persons responsible for this act and ensure that they are brought to justice.

"Racing Victoria will discuss with the Kilmore Racing Club what opportunities there are to enhance security at the racetrack which is crown land that is accessible by the public and work with the Kilmore Racing Club to ensure that their next meeting on 26 April is in a position to proceed."

Kilmore Racing Club Chairman, Dr Maxine Brain, said: "It's a diabolical act and anyone cruel enough to have done something such as this should face the full brunt of the law. If the pickets were not found then the consequences could have been disastrous for an innocent horse or jockey."

Australian Trainers Association chief executive Andrew Nicholl said: "The ATA is sickened by the actions of an unknown person or persons, who purposefully placed driven steel stakes in the course proper at Kilmore Race Club in advance of their race meeting today.

"The clear intent by the perpetrators was to disrupt the meeting. In a worse case scenario, the outcome of this extreme act could have been catastrophic. Fortunately, RVL protocols surrounding track inspection before the meeting commences allowed stewards to find and remove the stakes. Ultimately, the decision moved to an abandonment of the meeting.

"Whilst disappointed for trainers (and their owners) who had horses entered at Kilmore today, raceday safety is and must remain the priority for participants and the horse. Accordingly, we support the actions of RVL stewards and the Kilmore Race Club to abandon the meeting. This will now allow for a more thorough track inspection and review of all track amenities by RVL, Kilmore Race Club and the Police.

"As an industry, or as individuals, we simply cannot tolerate this behaviour, and we urge anyone with any knowledge of this matter, or of those involved, to come forward and provide this information to the appropriate authorities."

 

This article first appeared on the Racing Victoria website (racing.com) and is reprinted here with their kind permission. For more on the Off the Track program please visit rv.racing.com/the-horse/off-the-track

 

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