GREYHOUND racing at The Gardens is likely to be cancelled for at least the next week following flash floods which have caused extensive damage to the Hunter Valley venue.
Situated in Newcastle, water quickly engulfed the track and car park before pouring into the kennel block and the recently renovated indoor betting arena during heavy rainfall on Tuesday afternoon and evening.
Newcastle Greyhounds CEO Dave Kiernan said the flood was a financial setback for the club, after the costly renovations at the venue late last year.
“The water has come right into our Black Top Betting Lounge which is very disappointing because we only just finished carpeting it – the last bit went down in November and that was $20,000 worth of carpet which will now need replacing,” Kiernan said.
“It is a bit upsetting because we have been really trying to get the place moving ahead and it is disappointing because while we are out of action we will have no income coming in – so you are not just losing racing for the participants, the club are also losing the opportunity to make money as well.”
Kiernan said the water levels reached their maximum on Wednesday morning, but remain too high to get a clear gauge of the damage caused.
“The water peaked earlier this morning and I was speaking to our Racing Operations Manager Vicki McIntosh earlier who said they have had one or two heavy showers and just light drizzle since – so we are hoping that it is going to start subsiding soon,” he said.
“We are going to go down tomorrow and try to assess the damage – I would like to think the water will be gone by then but we don’t really know if this rain continues.
“The trouble is the area is low-lying, a problem faced by many sporting complexes, and being low I imagine we are going to be one of the last places to have the water drain away.”
The track is likely to require repairs to the surface before racing can resume, with a decision on that to be made once the inspection is completed.
“As the water subsides it is probably going to drag all the debris onto the track and once the sand is contaminated you pretty much have to re-sand the whole track as once you get twigs, leaves and barks mixed into the surface it is no good for racing,” Kiernan said.
The meeting scheduled for Saturday has been transferred to Gosford, with no clear timeframe as to when racing will return to The Gardens.
“Our Saturday meeting has been transferred to Gosford and we will be making a decision tomorrow as to what will happen with next Friday and Saturday’s meetings once we assess the damage to the track and the electrical equipment,” Kiernan said.
“Being a transferred meeting trainers will be able to scratch without penalty if required on Saturday.
“Gosford will also be holding trials on Saturday night after the last race, however due to kennel space there will be no performance trials or reserve trials before the first.
“It is a definite setback but hopefully we can bounce back bigger and better than ever.”
The bad news continues for Hunter Valley participants, with Maitland abandoning their meeting on Thursday due to damage from the rain, with trials also cancelled for Thursday night and Friday morning.