Incident Riccarton Racecourse – Friday 7th December 2012

posted Dec 11, 2012, 6:26 PM by Karin Attwood   [ updated Dec 11, 2012, 6:26 PM ]
The RIU has completed its investigation into the incident in Race 1 at the Canterbury Racing-North Canterbury Race meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on Friday 7 December 2012 where marker cones were present on the track near the 1000 metres during the running of the race. The consequences being that the field had to take significant evasive action to avoid the cones on the track with a rider also becoming dislodged. Ultimately the race was declared void.

What Happened?

The facts relating to the cones being left on the track are:-
• Cones are regularly placed on the track at the 1000 metre and  1400 metres at Riccarton Park to keep horses off the rail when, as part of their education, they jump out from practice starting gates.  In this case the cones were placed in their normal position on Thursday after mowing.

• The cones are removed on race day as part of the race meeting set up, with this being done well before the first race. 

• The Club has a check list for race day set up and the “removal of cones” is on the list which has to be ticked off when completed.

• On Friday last a CJC staff member was designated the task of picking up all the cones on the track.  At approximately 1.30pm he recovered those situated at the 1400 metres but inexplicably did not pick up those near the 1000 metres.  The staff member then logged all the cones as being retrieved. 

• The RIU Steward chairing the meeting walked the track from 12pm to 12.30pm as part of RIU inspection duties, and while it was noted that cones were on the track at both the 1400 metre and 1000 metres it was assumed that they would be removed by the club, as this has always been the practice in the past.

Who is Responsible?

The RIU and the Club accept full responsibility for what occurred and have reviewed the actions of staff and the processes in place.  In this case while both organisations had systems in place human error and a failure to follow through resulted in an extremely dangerous situation.

The staff concerned (both RIU and the Club’s) are shattered by what occurred, they are remorseful and understand fully the gravity of what could have happened.  It is being dealt with as an employment matter by the respective organisations.

Action being taken to ensure it does not occur again

As a result of what occurred at Riccarton Park both the Racing Club and the RIU have reviewed their race day processes and procedures.  

The matters identified include;
1. That upon arrival at the track the entire racing surface will be checked by RIU staff.
2. RIU staff being required to confirm with the Club that all items have been removed from the track.
3. That 20 minutes prior to the race there is to be a final visual inspection of the track.

In the case of the administration at Riccarton Park Racecourse – A full and exhaustive checking process that mitigates any potential risk or hazard at the facility.

These actions apply to all race meetings and racecourses in New Zealand.

What occurred at Riccarton Park last Friday acts as a salutary reminder to all that failure of processes and checking systems has the potential to affect real harm to not only riders and horses but also the image of racing. To this end the RIU must ensure that robust process is in place to adequately protect safety of all within the industry.