By GREG WHITE
CONCERNS over the surface of Coffs Harbour racecourse have again been expressed after Friday's Clarence River Jockey Club at Coffs meeting was abandoned following the fourth race.
A deputation comprising senior jockeys Allan Robinson, Stephen Traecey and Shane Treweek met with chairman of stewards Bill Fanning, and after inspecting a 50-metre section of track between the 400 metres and home turn, the decision was made to call off the balance of the program.
With over 30mm of rain registered in the 24 hours prior to the meeting the track rating was given out as a 'Heavy 10', the maximum reading before safety concerns are raised.
Robinson had expressed misgivings about the surface after riding in the opening event before ironically, landing a race-to-race double on favourites Brave Regent and Canny Shuffle.
Traecey was also a winner after riding Son Of A Brom in the two-year-old race.
The racing pattern at Coffs Harbour on rain-affected tracks has become notorious with jockeys usually scouting to the outside fence down the the home straight in search of better going.
But rider Jasen Watkins added to the growing legend in the opening event when he bounced Concitare to the lead from the 1600m shute and headed straight to the outside running rail bordering Christmas Bells Road and the airport.
With Watkins positioned three horses off the fence and maintaining his position, rival jockey Matt Paget hunted eventual winner Dream Walker around him and the pair continued their duel to the winning post.
In a later race, Raymond Spokes was leading on noted front-runner Tigre D'Or before switching back to the inside, causing the horse to become unbalanced and drop back through the field.
Spokes took his mount back to the outside of the field and he regained his footing to run on and finish second.
"Punters were watching all this and decided to pull back in their betting," one bookmaker's clerk said.
"I believe one of the biggest bets laid in the first race was $10 each way on the first winner at 8/1, which is ridiculous.
"There isn't much confidence there."
Not all jockeys were happy with the decision to call the meeting off with at least two expressing their willingness to continue riding.
The CRJC will again transfer a meeting to Coffs Harbour on Saturday, March 17, with the local Racing Club resuming its own fixtures on April 1.