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The word abandoned, when applied to horse racing, is when a race or meeting is cancelled. This can happen for a number of reasons.
The weather is the most common reason for an abandonment. Grass courses (turf) can be abandoned if there is too much water or snow on the track, or if the going gets too heavy to be raced on.
Frost is another obvious issue with the ground in the winter becoming far too hard to risk any horse as he or she lands after a jump, be that over hurdles or fences. Safety is paramount when it comes to the welfare of the horses concerned and if there is a danger a horse will slip over on a bend then all bets are off.
All-weather tracks were introduced in 1989, with Lingfield the first, in an effort to combat races and meetings lost to the weather, but even these surfaces can be effected by conditions.
However, sometimes the surface can be fine but the horses, jockeys and paying public cannot get to the course, or it is deemed unsafe for them to even attempt access.
Inclement weather is the main issue that can force an abandonment in the UK but other countries, with Australia a prime example, have experienced abandonments because it has been too hot to race.
Abandonments can occur for non-weather-related reasons too. If the medical team required to be present, for the safety of jockeys, punters and horses, is not in place, then a meeting may be abandoned.
Loose ground at Doncaster caused an abandonment after falls due to holes in the ground following drainage work at the course. There was later legal action from the injured jockeys, while Newbury called off its racing in strange circumstances when two horses collapsed in the parade ring. Speculation of an electric shock ensued but the safety of the horses and the people present was taken into consideration and racing was abandoned.
Each bookmaker may have different procedures for bets placed on an abandoned event, and the rules may apply differently to different types of bets.
Bettors should always check the terms and conditions of their operator for how abandonments are handled.
The most famous abandonment in racing history came on April 5 1997 when an IRA bomb threat caused the meeting to be abandoned and the course evacuated.
The race was run two days later and won by Lord Gylleen at odds of 14/1.