Stawell race track destroyed in suspected deliberate poisoning

ARARAT Crime Investigation Unit detectives are appealing for witnesses following the suspected deliberate poisoning and ultimate destruction of 1000 metres of the Stawell Racecourse track.

Police believe the unknown offender or offenders gained entry to the Pomonal Road track in the week leading up to March 25 and poisoned the track.

Club and industry officials have abandoned plans to run the Stawell Gold Cup meeting on Easter Sunday.

The meeting attracts 4000 racegoers each year and is one of the highlights of the Stawell Easter Festival.

Stawell Racing Club's Penny Penfold said the club was devastated by the news.

READ MORE: Stawell Racing Club devastated after suspected deliberate track poisoining

She said Racing Victoria officials were urgently trying to find a suitable replacement venue.

"While the club is dumbfounded that someone would be so callous as to sabotage its most important meeting and one of the highlights of the Stawell Easter Festival, it is determined to make the best of a terrible situation,'' she said.

"The club is dumbfounded that someone would be so callous as to sabotage its most important meeting and one of the highlights of the Stawell Easter Festival.'' - Penny Penfold

President Gary Mussett said the club was determined to provide a great cup day despite the huge setback.

"We won't let anyone beat us,'' he said.

Racing Victoria racing executive general manager Greg Carpenter said he was disappointed with the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of the meeting.

“Unfortunately it appears there has been a deliberate act to damage the track,” he said.

"This is both alarming and extremely disappointing that such an iconic meeting, one which is a major attraction for the local community, can be lost in such circumstances.''

Mr Carpenter said the club would host a family fun day at the Stawell Racecourse on April 20 in lieu of the race meeting.

Detectives believe the track destruction is a targeted attack.

Ararat Crime Investigation Detective Senior Constable Marcia Parry said police were notified on Friday, after the groundsman noticed the surface deteriorating at an unusual rate.

"Tests are under way to see what has caused the damage," she said.

She expected Racing Victoria to report back to police with their findings.

In Victoria, criminal damage carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment.

Police have appealed for anyone with information call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au. 

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