Down & dirty

By Sports Editor, IANMONAGHAN

LISMORE Turf Club secretary-manager Michael Timbrell has a racing industry reputation as a rainmaker ... guaranteed to produce a shower of rain.

But yesterday that all turned upside down.

Instead of his demons coming in the form of rain- drops from the heavens, they attacked from below.

A mysterious muddy spring has bubbled forth on the turn into the home straight at the Lismore Racecourse, causing the painful decision to abandon this Saturday's University Cup race day, second only in attendance to Lismore Cup day.

The boggy problem surfaced at the 300-metre mark, about four horses, or six or seven metres wide of the fence.

In racing terms, it generally marks the spot from which jockeys make their most crucial runs.

"We are mindful primarily of the safety of rider and jockey," Timbrell said yesterday, following a mid-morning track inspection with Lismore Turf Club chairman Ron Marriott, Northern Rivers Racing chief steward Bill Fanning and champion local jockey Darron Coleman.

"Darron told us 'if a horse put his foot in it (the swampy spring area) he'd break his leg'," Timbrell said.

Bubble, bubble ... mud and trouble, first made its presence known about a month ago.

Course curator Lesleigh Lisha was driving a tractor pulling a roller when the whole rig sank more than 125mm on the home bend.

Timbrell said a neighbouring landowner, Athol Farmer, by coincidence a former leading trainer, drove his tractor onto the course to extract the curator's bogged equipment.

Deep drainage works will now probably be needed, with turf club officials estimating the cost of the restoration in the thousands of dollars.



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