The stewards called off the last of eight races at Navan today following concerns about the bend out of the back straight, where there were a number of incidents during the afternoon.
After interviewing clerk of the course Joe Collins, leading trainers Dermot Weld and Noel Meade and top jockeys Michael Kinane, Pat Smullen and Johnny Murtagh, the stewards “abandoned the last race in the interests of safety”.
As early as the third race one of the runners slipped on the bend on ground officially good to yielding after rain on Sunday night.
In the sixth race, an 18-runner maiden over nine furlongs, Photon slipped up on the bend in question, bringing down two other runners.
His jockey Colm O’Donoghue took a heavy fall from which he emerged with a sore right leg that had to be strapped and treated with an ice-pack before he could leave the course.
O’Donoghue is based with champion trainer Aidan O’Brien and another of his apprentices, Tom Queally, escaped with just a shaking when Athqaal was brought down.
But Oliver Casey, who also hit the deck with Zsa Zsas Note, briefly lost conciousness and was taken by ambulance to the local hospital for observation.
The seventh race, which took place without incident, was a six-runner conditions event in which Smullen completed a treble for his boss Weld aboard the well-backed favourite Multazem, having earlier scored on stablemates Princess Stephanie and Elite Society.
However Smullen, along with Kinane and Murtagh, who were also among the winners, visited the stewards’ room to give their opinions.
Faced with a maximum field of 23 for the finale over 10 furlongs, the stewards felt they had no option but to call a halt.
Punters were already betting on the last race and the horses were in the parade ring with the jockeys weighed out when the announcement was made, provoking disappointment from trainers of the intended runners.
Noel Meade, the locally-based champion jumps trainer who is on the managing committee, said that in his opinion the stewards had little option but to take the course of action they adopted.
Afterwards, a deputation of trainers accompanied the clerk of the course to the bend to inspect the ground and Michael Grassick, chairman of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, wondered aloud about the decision taken by the stewards.
“The ground is consistently good to yielding and the alignment of the bend is perfect,” he said.
“There was obviously some remedial work carried out and there is some gravel where the ground was opened up, and some sand was put on the course during the afternoon.
“But if the track was safe after six races, why did they run the seventh and not the eighth over almost the same trip?”