17 May 2010

Efforts being made to reopen Rangiora racecourse

4:59 pm on 17 May 2010

The racing community in Rangiora, in north Canterbury is raising money in a bid to reopen their racecourse which was closed three years ago after a serious accident.

Top jockey Judy Lawson was in a coma for nearly a fortnight in 2006 after her horse slipped on the track, which had been watered the night before.

Members of the Rangiora Racecourse Stakeholders Group say a lack of facilities is ruining the local racing industry and it's time to put the accident behind them.

They plan to upgrade the irrigation system to a state that jockeys feel safe on the course.

Local breeder and trainer Colin Whiteman says the course would be significantly safer if the irrigation was spread consistently over the track, something that will cost the group up to $220,000.

A fundraising ball and auction were held on Saturday night in the racecourse grandstand, when $30,000 was collected.

Group president Gay Price says about 100 horses have been trained on the track daily since the accident with no problems, and it's time to put the incident behind them.

The decision on whether it will reopen lies with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, which says the green light won't be given until jockeys say they're 100% satisfied the track is safe.