The West

Officials have defended their rating of the Flemington track on Boxing Day after criticism from trainer Mick Kent over a career-ending injury to imported stayer Unusual Suspect.

The nine-year-old, who has run in two Melbourne Cups and won the Werribee Cup in December, suffered a fractured pastern in the Bagot Handicap (2800m) in which he finished second last.

Kent said stewards should have changed the track grading from a good 3 to a good 2, allowing trainers the option of scratching runners.

He said he had walked the track and described it as firm, and Racing Victoria track walkers should have also reported its condition properly.

Kent told steward Robert Cram about his concerns, but said the track's grading was changed only once, from a dead 4 to a good 3 after the first race.

Cram said RV had received "mixed" feedback from jockeys after the Boxing Day meeting, but Kent was the only trainer who had complained to him.

"One leading jockey said he wished the track was like it every race meeting," Cram said.

"The track did have an excellent cover of grass on it which did give it that little bit of cushion.

"The grass was the thickest and longest I've seen at Flemington for some time."

Kent said the track was quick from the opening race.

"I walked it and, especially the last 600, I thought it's easily a good 2 ... very firm, no give," he said.

"I shouldn't have run the horse."

In October, trainer Terry O'Sullivan scratched favourite Exceptionally from the Bart Cummings believing the Flemington surface was harder than the good 3 rating.

·Last-start stakes winner Moriarty headlines 13 nominations for next Thursday's Gosford Gold Cup.

The feature meeting has been bolstered by the addition of the Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m) and the Listed Belle Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) as part of a bid for a Saturday fixture next year.

The Takeover Target has been moved from winter and the Belle Of The Turf from spring.

Australian Associated Press

The West Australian

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