Dust storm halts Sydney and Brisbane racing
Horses and jockeys were at risk of suffering respiratory issues if they participated at meetings at Canterbury and Eagle Farm on Wednesday.
A freakish dust storm swept through Sydney early on Wednesday morning and made it’s way north to Brisbane by lunch time.
The storm resulted in Racing NSW stewards calling the meeting at inner-city Canterbury off at 8am (AEST) and Queensland stipes followed suit about four hours later at Eagle Farm.
Poor visibility was the other major concern with stewards in both states barely able to see 200 metres in front of them.
Racing NSW deputy chairman of stewards Marc Van Gestel said Wednesday’s events were unprecedented to his knowledge.
"I’ve been stewarding for 20 years and have never struck a storm like this one," Van Gestel said.
"I spent time in Wagga and whilst we had dust storms it was nothing like this and nothing that would jeopardise a race meeting being conducted."
Van Gestel said Racing NSW stewards called the meeting off after consultation with veterinarian Craig Suann.
"He indicated that in the morning had the dust remained as it was it would have posed the threat of respiratory issues for the horses," Van Gestel said.
"There was also the health and safety of the riders in regards to the effects on their breathing with the dust storm.
"There was also the distinct lack of visibility at the course at 8am when we called the meeting off. Visibility was about 200 metres."
Queensland Racing deputy chief steward John Hackett said veterinarians had the final call in Brisbane.
"It was their decision in the interests of animal welfare that it was too dangerous for the animals and could affect their lungs," Hackett said.
"The visibility was down to 200 metres on the track itself, they couldn’t see the 300-metre post from the winning post."
The Ipswich greyhound meeting set down for Wednesday night was also called off due to the extreme weather conditions.
By Russell Jackson