The West

Concerns for soggy Belmont track

Perth Racing is confident Wednesday's Belmont Park meeting will go ahead despite stewards calling off Saturday's card after two races.

Stewards and industry representatives will inspect the track over the next three days after a section near the 1300m was deemed unsafe for racing.

Excessive surface water built up on that section when the track was hit by 64mm of rain in the lead-up to Saturday and heavy showers just 80 minutes before the scheduled time of the first race.

One senior rider labelled the section of the track "shocking" on Saturday. There were also soft sections near the 600m and just past the winning post.

Horses and riders in the first race avoided the area of concern near the 1300m when the barriers were moved out wide at the 1400m starting point.

The $100,000 HG Bolton Sprint (1200m) was rescheduled to Wednesday and the remaining five races were abandoned.

PR general manager of tracks Cameron Sutherland said the track was improving yesterday.

"It's still a little bit soft, but I'm confident it will be fine for Wednesday," Sutherland said.

Chief steward Brad Lewis remained concerned about the problem area near the 1300m.

"We will look at the track with jockeys and trainers on Monday, Tuesday and early Wednesday morning before deciding whether Wednesday proceeds," Lewis said. "It's up in the air at the moment. We're going to have to put in some strict criteria for Belmont meetings for the rest of the season."

A shower or two is forecast today, tomorrow and Wednesday.

An estimated $1 million in TAB turnover was lost when the meeting was abandoned.

Several trainers and owners also lost a final crack at winning Westspeed bonuses, with the season ending on Thursday.

The waterlogged section of the track near the 1300m was also an issue last year when three Belmont meetings were washed out in seven weeks, costing the industry at least $5 million in turnover.

A subsequent independent analysis of the Belmont track cleared its base and surface.

But many in the industry believe Belmont, once considered the nation's best winter track, can't cope with rain like it did previously and needs to be redeveloped. Trials scheduled today at Lark Hill will go ahead after the track passed an inspection yesterday.

A track inspection will also take place at Pinjarra tomorrow to determine whether Thursday's meeting goes ahead.

Trainer Ross Price is considering his options with Smoko after the sprinter's race was abandoned on Saturday.

"We might trial him at Lark Hill and see how he goes," Price said. "The Belmont Newmarket is probably our only option."

"We're going to have to put in some strict criteria for Belmont meetings for the rest of the season.""Chief steward *Brad Lewis *on the waterlogged track

The West Australian

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