Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Stewards determined to call off the meeting after a track inspection deemed the surface to be unsafe for racing on the first turn.
The decision to abandon the meeting was particularly distressing for Little River trainer David Burnett, who had specifically targeted the Vic Breeders maiden series with his promising chaser, Rocky Ravioli.
“I was very disappointed,” Burnett told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I held my greyhound back for six weeks waiting for this series and I drove to Warrnambool – which is a six-hour round trip – to trial him, for the heats and the semi-finals.
The circuit had been harrowed on Monday, with some sources speculating that sprinklers had overwatered the track, in addition to rainfall in the area.
The abundance of water was said to have had a detrimental effect on the racing surface, making it unsuitable for racing.
“If that’s true it is just incompetence,” Burnett said.
“The staff and management should have assessed the track during the day and realised that something wasn’t looking right.
“The only time it was noticed was when the stewards walked the track to do an inspection.
“Why couldn’t the track have been harrowed last Friday, the day after the last race meeting?
“GRV have control of the Warrnambool track, so it’s all back on them.
“It all goes back to the management – there needs to be proper supervision over the staff to make sure they are doing the right thing.”
Burnett said it was disappointing to have to turn around and go home, having travelled to the track thinking his greyhound would be hard to beat in the final.
It was also a pivotal race for Rocky Ravioli, which was aiming to break his maiden status in order to be eligible for the Group 1 Silver Chief Classic (525m) heats later this month.
“It is shattering because I really thought he could win the maiden, which would have taken the pressure off and made him eligible for the Silver Chief series.
“I drove four hours to Melbourne to trial him at The Meadows this morning because he didn’t get a run last night.
“He broke 25 post to post which is a FFA time, but I can’t get him out of his maiden because the race was cancelled last night, which means he may not be able to go in the Silver Chief series.
“It was all pre-planned – I was going to go to Warrnambool through the maiden series, come back, give him a look at The Meadows and then go into the Silver Chief series.”
Burnett says he will now head to The Meadows next week and try to win a maiden with Rocky Ravioli.
It was also a disheartening night on Thursday for Ben Divirgilio, who had to embark on an 11-hour round trip to Warrnambool for the abandoned meeting.
“It is frustrating – it’s a five-and-a-half-hour drive for us each way,” Divirgilio said.
“When I pulled up I got the dogs out of the car and I could see (the stewards) going around the track so I knew something was wrong.
“The track did look wet and sloppy, so I knew it was going to be an issue.
“After kennelling they inspected the track again and said they weren’t going to race because they weren’t happy with the first turn.”
Despite being disappointed, Divirgilio said the right thing to do was call the meeting off for the safety of the greyhounds.
“The stewards made the right call,” he said.
“The meeting should have been abandoned – I applaud them for what they did.”
However, Divirgilio questioned why the tracks are being harrowed so much lately, particularly when rain is expected in the following days.
“This time of year you don’t expect to be losing meetings because the track has been harrowed and is wet.
“They have gone overboard with harrowing the tracks as much as they do – they need to look at the forecasts and know whether it is going to rain and maybe hold the harrowing back.
“If you are going to harrow the track do it the day after the meeting – it is better to cancel a trial session than a race meeting.
“The meetings need to go ahead – coming into summer we are going to lose enough due to the heat without worrying about losing them due to human error.”
Australian Racing Greyhound contacted GRV for comment on why the meeting was abandoned, however they had not responded at the time of publishing.