6 May 2011

Inquiry ordered after race course incident

7:40 am on 6 May 2011

The Victorian Government has ordered an inquiry after seven people were injured when a New Zealand race horse lost its rider and hurdled the wrong fence before crashing into the crowd at the Warrnambool races.

Banna Strand from Taranaki jumped a two-metre barrier into spectators during the Grand Annual Steeplechase in south-west Victoria on Thursday.

A girl, aged two, has a broken collarbone and a woman, 80, and a girl, 12, have suspected fractures.

Four other people suffered bruising and have been discharged from hospital.

Racing Minister Denis Napthine says the safety of spectators is of paramount importance.

The ABC reports Racing Victoria will investigate the incident, in conjunction with the Warrnambool Racing Club.

"Our primary concern is for the wellbeing of those people that were injured in this freak accident," said Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines.

Country Racing Victoria says the runaway horse landed on a police car and then ran down an escape route.

Banna Strand was one of six horses who failed to complete the marathon 5500-metre course over 33 fences.

Only two horses completed the course: Al Garhood, who won the steeplechase for a second consecutive year, beating Awaking Dream.

The ABC reports the Warrnambool carnival got off to a bad start on Tuesday when a horse was put down after falling in the first hurdle race of the day.