TWO prominent horse trainers say they raised concerns about a Cranbourne trail in the months before a former Hamilton jockey was killed during trackwork.
Cranbourne Turf Club and horse trainer Saloon Park Pty Ltd have been charged following the death of apprentice jockey Mikaela Claridge in 2019.
Ms Claridge was inducted into Racing Victoria's Apprentice Jockey Training Program in 2015 and was apprenticed to trainer Allan Clarke at Hamilton.
The 22-year-old was killed after falling from a horse while riding a section of Cranbourne Turf Club known as the sand trails on the morning of August 30, 2019.
The club was charged with six breaches of the OH&S Act in February this year.
WorkSafe alleges the club failed to maintain the sand trails and ensure it was safe for use.
It also alleges Saloon Park Pty Ltd failed to ensure its employees did not ride the sand trails track in the dark.
On Tuesday during the second day of the committal hearing sitting in Melbourne Magistrates Court, Ultra Thoroughbreds general manager Anthony Swords said he raised concerns with WorkSafe and on social media in early 2019 about potholes, kangaroos and poor lighting at the Cranbourne track.
He said that during a meeting with the turf club in about February, he was "grilled" by tracks and facilities manager Neil Bainbridge for putting up a social media post regarding the alleged issues.
When asked if Mr Swords raised only the issue of wildlife during a meeting with the club, he said "that is not true", and that he recalled also discussing lighting.
Mr Swords said he had walked onto the track at 4.30am in the morning before and that "it shouldn't have been open" at that time.
Prominent Cranbourne trainer Mark Webb said that in February 2019, he spoke with the club about wallabies on the track and had asked if someone had to be killed before changes were made.
He recalled being "lucky not to come off" an old horse due to a wallaby on the trail some years ago.
When asked if he was asked to provide information to a WorkSafe inspector about his use of the trails prior to August 30, 2019, Mr Webb said no.
But he said he "absolutely" maintained that the track was safe to train on in the dark and that riders often did so from 4.30am.
But he admitted that a rider shortage meant no one had taken part in early morning trackwork for some time.
He said that was not because of Ms Claridge's death.
The committal hearing is expected to hear from the final witnesses on Wednesday.
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