Randwick Grandstand Saga Threatens Epsom Handicap

The grandstand issues which forced Royal Randwick to abandon its group meeting this Saturday could also extend to its feature event Epsom Handicap day as well.

Safety concerns were raised with club officials yesterday morning and the decision was made to cancel the races scheduled for this weekend while inspections were carried out.

Thankfully the Chelmsford Stakes Day program could be saved with Warwick Farm able to step up as an alternate venue.

The issues forcing the change were pinned down to the roof of the Queen Elizabeth II grandstand, a structure that’s stood for five decades.

While the problem has been located fixing it is another issue altogether and as yet there’s no word on how much work it will take to bring it up to scratch.

That puts in jeopardy the George Main Stakes race day as it is only a matter of weeks away on September 17.

It also puts in danger Epsom Handicap Day on October 1st, the loss of that would be devastating to the club as it’s Sydney’s biggest spring program with four Group 1 events.

Apart from 1983 when renovations were carried at the racecourse, Randwick has hosted the Epsom every year since 1865.

Should Randwick not be ready by the first of October the Australian Turf Club would have to choose between Warwick Farm or Rosehill Gardens and likely change other meetings to ensure tracks aren’t overused.

This is especially the case for Rosehill which has double the crowd capacity and improved facilities but a string of its own feature races in the weeks preceding.

ATC Chief Darren Pearce wouldn’t be drawn into speculation about what may happen or how long repairs will take.

“Our engineers were carrying out more tests on the grandstand’s roof with a final report due within seven days,” Pearce said.

“Until I receive that final report, I cannot make comment on what may happen to the coming Randwick spring carnival meetings.”

There’s even a chance the $150 million Randwick redevelopment project scheduled for November could be brought forward.

That would cause chaos for the spring though as it would mean the transferring of all future meetings at the venue.

Randwick was originally due to be closed from November through to March for the works to be completed.

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