Racing authorities have described the deliberate sabotage of a race meeting at Kilmore as 'sickening' and 'diabolical' after police were contacted to investigate the incident.
A dramatic statement from Country Racing Victoria, the body which oversees all country racing in Victoria, has claimed lives would have been lost had stewards not come across two metal stakes which were driven into the ground at the 400m mark.
“We all know the risks involved in thoroughbred racing and the bravery required of our jockeys every time they saddle up to ride,” the statement read.
“It is incomprehensible that anyone would seek to endanger them or their mounts. We commend the stewards for their diligence in uncovering this sabotage and, undoubtedly, saving human and equine lives as a result.”
“Today is a sad day for the racing game.”
The meeting was abandoned without a race being run due to safety concerns.
RV Executive General Manager – Infrastructure and Clubs, Jamie McGuinness, said the incident was of the most serious nature.
“It appears that this was an act of vandalism or sabotage which the Kilmore Racing Club has referred to Victoria Police to investigate. If that is the case then it was an irresponsible and dangerous act that has put the lives of both riders and horses at serious risk.
“Racing Victoria will work with the Kilmore Racing Club and Victoria Police to help find the person or persons responsible for this act and ensure that they are brought to justice.
“Racing Victoria will discuss with the Kilmore Racing Club what opportunities there are to enhance security at the racetrack which is crown land that is accessible by the public and work with the Kilmore Racing Club to ensure that their next meeting on 26 April is in a position to proceed.”
Kilmore Racing Club Chairman, Dr Maxine Brain, said, “It’s a diabolical act and anyone cruel enough to have done something such as this should face the full brunt of the law. If the pickets were not found then the consequences could have been disastrous for an innocent horse or jockey.”
Club CEO Ben Murphy has said the club will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the full truth about the incident is known.
“What we’re angry with, and really perturbed by, is that someone has taken the time to do what they’ve done to the track to what we can only assume is to create chaos,” he told racing.com.
“Certainly from our perspective it’s a police matter. We’ll make contact with our local police this afternoon and work with the stewards with an investigation.”
“We take this extremely seriously and we’ll leave no stone unturned to try and find out who has taken it upon themselves to do this today.”