The Schweppes Tasmanian Derby meeting scheduled for Friday 31 January has been postponed for 24 hours with the eight-event program to be held on Saturday due to forecast high temperatures and hot winds of up to 70kmh.
The decision to postpone the meeting was a joint one made by Tasracing, the Office of Racing Integrity and the Tasmanian Racing Club (TRC).
Tasracing CEO Paul Eriksson said the welfare of animals and industry participants was paramount when considering the options.
“We took into account a number of factors and impacts but ultimately the welfare concerns took precedence over other matters,” said Tasracing CEO Paul Eriksson.
“We have delivered the track on time, on budget and it is ready to race, but we have no control over the weather.”
The TRC has spent many months planning the launch of Elwick’s new $12.5 million StrathAyr track, with several function rooms booked for the occasion but club chairman Andrew Scanlon was fully supportive of the decision.
“I support the decision that animal and participant welfare comes first and the close to 40 – degree temperature forecast was definitely not conducive to staging a race meeting,” Mr Scanlon said.
“The meeting will go ahead on Saturday and everything we had in place for Friday should remain for Saturday, with the exception of the Carbine Club luncheon, which will not be affected by the change.”
Trainers and jockeys have been advised that the meeting has been rescheduled. The Australian Trainers Association and the Tasmanian Jockeys Association were consulted and were supportive of the decision.
Tasmanian Hall of Fame mentor Bill Ryan who prepares Still A Star, the odds-on favourite for the Tasmanian Derby, said: “It’s great that our administrators have put the horse’s welfare first and while it is probably going to be a bit costly for the race club to make the switch, it is in the best interest of all concerned.
“It would have been very taxing on my filly to make the trip by float in extreme heat from Longford to Hobart and then have to contend with 70 kmh hot winds and a temperature that is expected to reach close to 40.”
Victorian-based rider jockey Anthony Darmanin, who is Mystic Journey’s regular rider, has a full book of eight rides at the meeting and he too has praised the decision to reschedule.
“I agree with the decision 100 per cent because we have to consider the horse’s welfare and that of the industry participants before anything else and having the meeting Saturday could work out to be a plus in terms of turnover,” Darmanin said.
The first race Saturday is scheduled to start at 12.20pm with the last of eight at 4.35pm.
To celebrate the grand re-opening of the Elwick racetrack and to recognise change of date, TRC CEO Brendan Blomeley said entry on the day would be free.
“The Schweppes Tasmanian Derby stands alongside the Ladbrokes Hobart Cup as one of Tasmania’s premier race days and this year, with the opening of the $12.5m re-developed racetrack, we extend an invitation to all Tasmanians to visit and enjoy quality thoroughbred racing,” Mr Blomeley said.