Coonamble Jockey Club officials will work with Racing NSW to find an alternative date for their $45,000 cup after rain forced the abandonment of Sunday’s meeting after four races.
Just hours after Dubbo Harness Racing Club was forced to call off its six-race program, the CJC got through half of its card before a decision was made to not run the final four races.
Among them was the feature over 1600m, an event which had drawn a field of nine runners.
It comes as a blow to the club, which has had an unfortunate run of losing its Cannonball meeting over the past few years.
Central West chief steward Todd Smith said poor visibility was the determining factor in his panel’s decision.
“After the third race on the program there was a fair bit of concern from the riders about visibility, particularly those that were back in the field,” Smith said.
“We elected to run one more race and see how the weather panned out, but after the Crystal Sprint the riders again came back and said they had trouble seeing.
It hasn’t rained for months and it happens to fall on Cup day, so they’ve been a bit unlucky.Todd Smith
“In the end safety is the number one priority and we had no choice but to call it off. All the riders who were back in the field were coming back splattered in mud and they all had concerns.
“The jockeys that were up front couldn’t offer much because they didn’t get any kickback.
“It’s unfortunate for the club, because it’s their biggest meeting of the year. It hasn’t rained for months and it happens to fall on Cup day, so they’ve been a bit unlucky.”
Prior to the meeting being called off, cult hero Stoneyrise resumed from a spell with a strong win in the $25,000 Crystal Sprint (1200m).
The gelding, trained out the back o’ Bourke by James Hatch, finished well from midfield to beat outslog his rivals in the rapidly deteriorating conditions.
The six-year-old, ridden by Mathew Cahill, started a $2.80 favourite and beat Rubymay ($11.00, Ben Looker) by one-and-a-quarter lengths, with Professor Marx ($3.80, Robbie Dolan) just behind that pair in third.
Hatch was over the moon post-race, admitting he had concerns about his star’s chances of taking out the event when the rain started falling.
“He’s a freak. To come from where he did on a wet track, first up. Unreal,” Hatch said on Sky Thoroughbred Central.
“I was a bit worried because he was first up over 1200m and it got heavy but how good is he?”
For Cahill, the win was a pleasing one, and he expects the gelding to get better with racing.
“He raced a bit closer than usual, which was handy,” Cahill said.
“He got tired the last 100m, which he was entitled to do first up on a wet track at 1200m.
“I knew the best part of his races was the last 300m, so I was confident he would pick them up, but he will only improve that run because he did start the labour a bit late.”