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Australian Turf Club chief executive Darren Pearce stressed safety was the paramount concern in its decision to move Saturday’s Randwick meeting to Warwick Farm.

The program, which boasts five stakes races including the Group Two Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), will go ahead at the western Sydney track after problems were discovered in the roof of the Queen Elizabeth II grandstand at Randwick.

Testing was being conducted on the grandstands this week ahead of the planned redevelopment of facilities at the track when engineers discovered a problem in one section of the QEII roof.

They advised the ATC that remedial work needed to be done to make the roof safe and until that happened Randwick was not fit to stage a major event.

“So given that advice we had really no alternative other than to put safety first and relocate the meeting to Warwick Farm to allow that work to be completed,” Pearce said on Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday.

Pearce said it would take up to a week for the remaining sections of the roof to be tested.

“We are hopeful that there is a solution to be found there once that testing is complete. You can’t gamble with safety and we needed to take the urgent action to transfer the meeting so that work can be undertaken,” Pearce said.

The next major event of the Sydney spring carnival scheduled for Randwick is Group One George Main Stakes day on September 17.

Pearce said it was too early to determine whether that meeting would also have to be moved but he hoped the structural problem could be stabilised so the remaining carnival days set down for Randwick could go ahead.

“We know the problem is in one section of one roof span. There is a lot more roof to test and until that testing is done I can’t speculate on what the outcome will be,” Pearce said.

“What I can say is that I know the testing will take between three and seven days to complete so our engineers have got strict instructions now to deal with that as urgently as they can.

“They have also been, in parallel, advised to work on the bracing solution to overcome the problem so we can race on through the spring carnival.”

Pearce added that the ATC was unable to simply close the QEII stand and use other grandstands for the meeting because the former housed areas such as the judge’s box, stewards’ room, weighing room and boxes for the race callers and they were unable to be relocated in time for Saturday.

Randwick is the venue for the main day of the Sydney spring carnival on October 1 when four Group One races, headed by the Epsom Handicap, are staged.

AAP TURF

 
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