Heat forces Stawell races to be cancelled

STAWELL - Racing Victoria yesterday made the announcement that the Stawell race meeting today has been abandoned due to extreme hot weather conditions.

The welfare of both horses and human participants is of the highest priority to Racing Victoria and as such the decision was made to not go ahead with the scheduled meeting.

Racing Victoria's Executive General Manager - Racing and acting CEO, Greg Carpenter, said the decision was made in the best interests of both human and equine participants.

"The decision had been made to abandon the meeting at Stawell following ongoing consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Country Racing Victoria and the Stawell Racing Club," Carpenter said.

"This is a decision that has not been made lightly. However we feel it is necessary to ensure the health and welfare of horses, jockeys and everyone involved in conducting the meeting."

Today's forecast maximum temperature for Stawell was upgraded to 43 degrees celsius, making it the fourth consecutive day in excess of 40 degrees.

BoM has advised thunderstorms are expected for the Stawell area from the late morning with little or no rainfall, combined with northwesterly winds hitting the area at 25 to 40 kilometres per hour.

Additionally the Country Fire Authority has advised that there are fires in the region that could potentially pose further risks.

Racing Victoria's Head of Veterinary, Dr Brian Stewart, said the expected conditions could potentially be hazardous for participants.

"We've been monitoring the conditions at Stawell, particularly during times when the meeting was scheduled to be conducted, and all information suggests the meeting would have occurred at the hottest part of the day," Stewart said.

"The cumulative stress of consecutive hot days on both horses and humans was a concern and a key factor in the decision to abandon the meeting.

"Horse welfare is of the utmost priority to Racing Victoria and we don't believe it would be responsible to proceed with the meeting."

Racing Victoria extended the closure of nominations for Tuesday's Kilmore meeting and Wednesday's Geelong meeting to 4pm yesterday for trainers with horses that had accepted for the abandoned Stawell meeting.

Any horse that had accepted to run at Stawell and is nominated for a race at Kilmore or Geelong before 4pm yesterday will be treated as an original entry.

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