Trainers boycott Grafton
By GREG WHITE
COFFS Harbour Racing Club CEO Russ Atkinson expects mass vaccinations against Equine Influenza will be administered at the racecourse by the weekend now that locally-based trainers won't be running at tomorrow's Grafton meeting.
Clarence River Jockey Club has been forced to delete two races and conduct a 'twilight meeting' with minimal fields after more than 90 horses nominated from the Coffs herd weren't paid up for at acceptance time.
"The meeting by our trainers to discuss the issue looked at two main things," Atkinson said.
"Firstly, the risk factor of bringing in outside transport to get the horses to the meeting en masse was considered too great and secondly, having an auditorium at the dog track so close to the gallops also provided a doubtful factor.
"Once these concerns were expressed and the latest advice from Racing New South Wales was given it became clear which way they (the trainers) would vote.
"We can understand how keen they were in Grafton for us to take part and we wish them every success with the meeting."
Information has been received by the Coffs Coast Advocate that the first vote taken among the trainers was 11-1 against racing at the CRJC meeting.
However, the source said the vote became unanimous once the single voice in favour of racing saw the result of the poll.
"The trainer always said he'd throw his weight behind the majority and this is why he changed his mind," our source revealed.
The original plan was for vaccinations to be administered at both racing centres at the completion of the meeting but Atkinson said approaches had been made to have the Coffs delivery made immediately.
And in a noteworthy gesture, the club is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the animals receiving the injections experience no discomfort and have as little stress as possible.
"Special measures have been taken to help the horses handle going through the process," he said.
"We don't want to be playing with people's livelihoods and will give collective support to those involved in the industry.
"God forbid EI was to come here because of something unforseen happening on the weekend as it would set racing back to at least March next year."