Fog brings early halt to proceedings at Naas

Sunday’s high-class meeting at Naas was called off after just one race due to fog.

The Kildare track had been the subject of two morning inspections, with officials calling an initial check at 7.30am due to the threat of frost, with the ground perfectly raceable at that stage although visibility was limited.

A second inspection was held at 9.30am, with the fixture eventually getting the go-ahead just before 11am.

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However, conditions deteriorated ahead of the first race, with the start delayed before it eventually took place in thick fog, offering racegoers and television viewers only a couple of glimpses of action.

An inquiry was called immediately afterwards, and after consulting with trainers and jockeys, the stewards declared an early halt to proceedings.

The card was due to feature the Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle, which is now set for Friday along with the remaining races.

Racecourse chairman Dermot Cantillon told Racing TV: “(I’m feeling) disappointed, it’s the natural thing to feel. We put a huge effort into today and this is what’s happened.

“I’m very disappointed for all the people who have travelled from all over Ireland, came here and we encouraged them to come because we thought it would be going ahead.

“It was just so random. A hundred yards up the road it’s perfect, the other way it’s perfect, but just in this particular spot, the fog has affected us really badly.

“There’s a number of aspects to it – there’s the integrity aspect, if you can’t see a race, how can you have a view on it. It’s a spectator sport, you can’t hear the commentary and there’s some important races here today.

“I think we owe it to the industry, we need to put on a spectacle that people can see and see properly. I think after the first race, the writing was probably on the wall.

“This is a one in a hundred shot this could have happened. Will it happen on Friday – I would say it’s long odds on it’s going to happen on Friday.”

The first race was run in poor visibility
The first race was run in poor visibility (Niall Carson/PA)

Clerk of the course Brendan Sheridan felt conditions had clearly worsened as the first race approached.

He said: “When the horses got down to the start for the first race, the fog had really come down and settled over us.

“We went down and had a chat with the riders and made the decision to run the first race.

“Unfortunately, the fog has come down and the safest thing is to cancel the meeting. We’ve been liaising with Met Eireann since seven o’clock this morning and they did say it would move slowly, which it did.

“Before racing you could see the last fence pretty clear, but unfortunately it has come back down again.

“I live just between here and Punchestown, less than a mile away, and there is no fog. It’s unfortunate, but just one of those things.”

Night And Day won the only race run at Naas
Night And Day won the only race run at Naas (Niall Carson/PA)

Eamonn McEvoy, manager at Naas, added: “Unfortunately it has got worse, we thought it would be OK, but it’s not and there is nothing we can do. The main thing is nobody is hurt and we will of course offer people free return in.

“Hopefully we can get the Lawlor’s race run here on Friday. I was very much looking forward to that race as I thought it was the best entry for a Graded race so far this year.

“We are asking for a six-race card to be run here on Friday, so hopefully that will get the go-ahead.”

Racegoers depart after the remainder of the Naas card was cancelled
Racegoers depart after the remainder of the Naas card was cancelled (Niall Carson/PA)

Stewards’ secretary Liam Walsh outlined the process of the abandonment.

He explained: “The chairman of the stewards (Nick Wachman), Brendan Sheridan, Danny Mullins and myself went down to the start and we were satisfied to let that (first) race go.

“It got worse during the race, so we’ve had to use the powers under Rule 10 to abandon the remainder of the card.

“We consulted a delegation of riders, the riders’ association representative and Gordon Elliott represented the trainers.”

It was later confirmed the fixture has been rescheduled for Friday, with an additional handicap hurdle added to the card to make seven races.

Fresh entries for the meeting will close by noon on Monday, with the exception of the Grade One which will revert to the original entry stage with fresh forfeits or supplementary entries to be made by the same deadline.

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