Disappointment for Chester as racing called off after four races

Racing was abandoned after four races at Chester on Saturday afternoon following safety concerns over conditions on the home bend.

Concerns were raised after Stuart Williams’s Humanitarian slipped up in the feature ICM Stellar Sports Handicap which was won by Tim Easterby’s Boardman, with racing subsequently halted with three races of the card remaining.

An inspection was conducted following the 3.45 contest, with a deputation on the track including senior jockeys.

Clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch said: “It is deeply disappointing for all of us here, but the welfare of both horses and riders is paramount.

“The stewards followed the procedures in such instances, when they take a delegation of jockeys and trainers to inspect. They looked at the bend coming into the home straight, what we call the castle bend, and in the 3.45 there was a horse at the back of the field that sadly did lose his footing and that was the reason for the inspection.

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“The stewards then heard from the jockeys and trainers and ourselves and their conclusion was that unfortunately we should abandon racing.

“We are deeply, deeply disappointed. With my background at Aintree, welfare of both horses and jockeys is paramount and I can’t stress that enough. Andrew Malam is the head groundsman here and along with myself, we take a lot of pride in producing the best and safest racing surface and for some reason there has been an incident on the bend and we will now go away and review that.

“Having said that, we have done verti-draining on that bend and on the bend after the winning line as well as additional watering to try to create the best ground we can.

Racing also had to be called off at Haydock on Friday evening
Racing also had to be called off at Haydock on Friday evening (Richard Sellers/PA)

“We will go away, look at all the evidence and see if there is anything we can do to improve because none of us wants to see what has happened.

“It’s really difficult, because plenty of jockeys came up to me and said it is beautiful ground, quite possibly the best ground we’ve raced on this season and then unfortunately you have an incident like this.

“It’s disappointing for all of us.”

This is the third meeting to be abandoned midway through a card in four days and follows quickly on the heels of the abandonment of Haydock’s Friday evening card which was called off after just two races due to unsafe ground on a bend.

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