Hopes remain high for big meetings

  • Last Updated: February 6 2014, 10:01 GMT

The feature meetings in Britain and Ireland this weekend are on course to beat the weather at present but officials from both Leopardstown and Newbury are eagerly watching ever-changing forecasts.

Newbury: Hopeful of beating the weather
Newbury: Hopeful of beating the weather

Leopardstown stages four Grade Ones on Sunday, with the Hennessy Gold Cup highlighting the card.

The next 48 hours look brighter in Ireland but more rain is due on Friday night.

Nessa Joyce, racing and operations manager at Leopardstown, said: "Tomorrow and Friday are forecast to be two fairly clear days which is great and that will give the track the chance to breath. We did a lot of drainage work on the chase track last summer which is paying dividends now.

"We'll have to see what Friday night brings, as there is another band of rain due to come in then.

"The track has taken everything which has been thrown at it so far and I've every confidence that we'll be OK. I'm genuinely not worried.

"We will be using the outer part of the chase track, and the hurdle track will be using fresh ground as well. We obviously have to plan well in advance with the prospect of adverse weather to organise the ground for all our big jumps meetings from Christmas onwards, and the Hennessy meeting is always in our mind."

It appears to be a bit wetter at Newbury for Saturday's meeting after over 20 millimetres on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, but clerk of the course Richard Osgood has been pleasantly surprised at how the track has stood up.

"I've been amazed how well the track has taken it, In the past I'd have been quite dubious if somebody had said how well we'd have taken 23 millimetres as I thought we'd have been under water, but we're not at the moment," he told Racing UK.

"They are talking about the rain staying around a bit for today and tomorrow but we should get a dry spell on Friday and then a little bit more on Friday night.

"At the moment I'd be quite confident that we're OK but as with all things you never quite know what you're going to get.

"We've moved the hurdle track so that is now completely fresh ground."


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Naas also races on Saturday and manager Tom Ryan said, "The track is raceable today and, if we get the weather that Met Eireann is predicting between now and Saturday, we should be OK.

"We had about 20mm of rain last night. The ground is heavy but it's raceable. We've had just over 50 millimetres of rain in total since last Thursday night but, from the figures Met Eireann told me this morning, I don't have any concerns at all."

Thursday's meeting at Taunton has already been abandoned and Huntingdon faces a 7am inspection.

Clerk of the course Sulekha Varma said: "We've had four millimetres of rain this morning, but we are expecting a brief respite, with more heavy rain due this afternoon.

"That would give us cause for concern on one part of the track."

The meeting at Clonmel on Thursday was cancelled and has been rearranged for next Wednesday.

The meetings at Bangor and Newcastle on Friday are already in grave danger, with Bangor inspecting at 8.30am on Thursday

Bangor's clerk of the course Andrew Morris said: "We'd just be fit to race this morning, but it is borderline and there is further rain forecast for later today.

"Having an inspection in the morning just gives us a chance to see where we stand, but we couldn't take any amount of rain, really."

Newcastle faces an 8am inspection on Thursday with clerk James Armstrong fearing the worst.

Exeter's meeting on Sunday will be all-hurdle with parts of the chase course already waterlogged.

Clerk of the course Barry Johnson said: "We have had 32 millimetres of rain in the last 24 hours which has left the chase course 50 per cent waterlogged. With a forecast of at least another 30 millimetres of rain before racing on Sunday the decision has been made to run an all-hurdle card.

"The hurdles will be moved over next to the chase fences on ground only normally used for bypassing. By doing this 85 per cent of the hurdle course is raceable today. This gives us the best chance of racing on Sunday, with a bit of help from the sky."


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