Day: December 7, 2009

No Horses For Frozen Courses

So the weekend is over and both Seonbongbulpae and Northern Ace retain their unbeaten records. Sadly this is not because of a thrilling dead-heat finale to the Herald Business Cup, but rather that the Sunday’s racing at Seoul was called off long before the two-year old championship race was due to go to post.

The first two races on Saturday were run in blizzard-like conditions with heavy rain and snow reducing visilibility to dangerous low levels (Chulgigi has some pictures of a romantic looking Race Park and a video of Saturday’s terrifying race 2 on his blog). After the second race, jockeys lobbied stewards to call things off, however, the snow almost instantly cleared and, following the hour break for simulcasting from Busan, there wasn’t a trace of the earlier snow and things went on as usual.

Overnight on Saturday and into Sunday morning, temperatures dived down to -10C, causing the heavy track to freeze. At trackwork on Sunday morning, trainers and riders reported it was too dangerous to race. Nevertheless, while it was cold, no more snow was forecast, the sun was out and the wind was nothing like as strong as that on Saturday so the KRA opted for a wait-and-see approach and punters began filing in at 10am.

With jockeys not wanting to race, races 1 and 2 were cancelled, however, an inspection deemed the track safe for race 3 to go ahead at 12:10pm. Jockeys Jung Ki Young, Moon Se Young and Cho Kyoung Ho (all senior enough to be able deal with any later consequences) decided not to ride and their mounts were scratched. Following the race, feedback was taken from the jockeys who did ride. They reported clumps of ice on the track and the decision was then taken to abandon racing for the day.

While the decision was undoubtedly the correct one, the timing of the cancellation once again – with thousands of punters on site was not very popular. The Pari-Mutuel screens were switched over to the afternoon card at Busan where things were much warmer, but punters would have wanted an earlier decision.

Back in March 2008, a similar event occurred – that time because of a waterlogged track. Again despite it looking highly unlikely any racing would go ahead, no decision was taken until after punters had arrived.

If past experiences are anything to go by, entry to the track will be free next weekend. As yet there is no word on whether the Herald Business wil be rescheduled. An extra day’s racing on Sunday December 27 is already planned to make up for the one cancelled for the funeral of ex-President Kim Dae Jung.