Severe heat wave conditions across central and southern Australia has forced the cancellation of all Victorian race meetings on Saturday, including the nine race program at Flemington.
Melbourne will be facing a 37 degree today with the mercury climbing to 41 degrees on Saturday.
With the extreme heat conditions to move across the state of Victoria, Racing Victoria made the early decision to abandon all race meetings across the state on Saturday and as well as Flemington, the country TAB meetings at Colac (day) and Wangaratta (twilight) have also been lost.
RV Chief Executive, Bernard Saundry, said the decision to cancel thoroughbred racing across Victoria tomorrow was made in the best interests of all participants, staff and patrons.
“The weather across Victoria tomorrow will be extreme and we have taken a view, after examining the latest forecast, that it is in the best interests of all that we not conduct any race meetings,” Saundry said.
“We have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of all participants, both human and equine, along with staff and patrons, in extreme weather conditions such as that forecast tomorrow.
“It’s an unfortunate situation for clubs and patrons who were preparing to gather and celebrate Christmas at racetracks across Victoria, but we are not prepared to take any risks in these extreme conditions.
“With a busy schedule of race meetings across the Christmas-New Year period, including eight on Boxing Day, we believe there are alternative opportunities for horses to compete in over the next two weeks.
“That said, we will review the racing programming for the next fortnight and add races to existing meetings where required to accommodate those impacted by tomorrow’s abandonments.”
Two additional races have already been added to the Sandown meeting next Wednesday, a BM84 2100m and BM84 2400m – both of which will serve as replacement lead-up races to the feature Bagot Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
The extreme heat is also causing concerns for the Emergency Services with a total fire ban in place for the Wimmera, South West, North Central and Central districts of Victoria, including Melbourne and Geelong.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said winds would pick up about 4:00pm today.
“Certainly this afternoon in south-west Victoria, along the coast into Melbourne and then again we’ll see the winds pick up on Saturday across Victoria from about 11:00am,” Lapsley told ABC News.
“It will be a fairly windy day Saturday.”