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Horse scratched because of earthworks

Complaints about earthworks at Eagle Farm racecourse have come to a head with trainer Robert Heathcote scratching short-priced favourite Oberland to protect punters.

Oberland would have been odds-on in a race at the Sunshine Coast on Friday night but Heathcote feared the horse would not perform to his best because of the noise from earthworks next door to his Eagle Farm stables.

First starter Takarakka was also withdrawn from a maiden at Heathcote’s request.

Heathcote took the unusual step when another of his horses Poetic Show, a short-priced favourite, struggled into fourth place at the Ipswich meeting early on Friday.

The five-time Brisbane premier trainer started the season in great fashion with 40 winners but since November has had just four winners from his past 50 runners.

Heathcote said while all stables went through slumps his had started the day the earthworks began.

“I was willing to take it on the chin. But Poetic Show’s run was the last straw. She did exactly what all my horses have been doing – racing flat,” Heathcote said.

“I have an obligation to the punters to present my horses in the best possible fashion to win. Especially when they are going to be odds-on.”

“The simple fact is there was a din beside my stables all day and the horses were agitated. It takes plenty out of them. You try resting with a huge noise about 15 metres away.”

Heathcote said the works had stopped for the Christmas break and he hoped would move away in the New Year.

The earthworks have nothing to do with the infield stabling which has been idle since the tragic death of two workers in October.

Trainers were expecting to be in the new stabling this week but there is no indication when it will be finished.

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