File image: Clairwood Racecourse. Picture: Supplied

Durban - The National Horseracing Authority is to investigate the start of a race which resulted in a protest by angry punters at Clairwood Racecourse in Durban on Sunday.

The protest forced the abandonment of the last three races at the meeting.

“An inquiry has been opened to establish why a 'no start' (ie false start) was not declared in race six at the Clairwood Racecourse,” the NHA said in a statement on Monday.

The NHA confirmed the starting gate in which race favourite My Sanctuary was loaded had failed to open at the same time as the other gates.

The punters blocked the entrance to the jockeys' weighing room and the office of meeting officials, according to a report in The Mercury, and the seventh, eighth, and ninth races were abandoned.

Officials said afterwards the results would stand, and My Sanctuary was declared a “runner”, according to NHA rules, after finishing among the top four.

“The stipendiary board had no option but to declare My Sanctuary a runner as it was placed third by the judge,” the NHA said.

Members of the SA Police Service were called to the racecourse, but the crowd did not disperse. Organisers abandoned the meeting due to safety concerns for the riders and horses. - Sapa