Waterlogged racecourse

Weekend fixtures at Haydock and Ascot inspect on Saturday

Saturday's high-profile meeting at Ascot is one of several weekend fixtures in the balance because of the imminent arrival of Storm Dennis.

Less than a week after Storm Ciara began to decimate the National Hunt programme, Britain is bracing itself for another volatile spell of weather - and officials at racecourses across the country are taking a mindful approach.

A seven-race card is scheduled to see the top-class Cyrname defend his crown in the Betfair Ascot Chase, but clerk of the course Chris Stickels is concerned about the forecast of strong winds.

A precautionary inspection has been announced for 8am - but there is every possibility of further checks through the morning, with winds set to strengthen from 11am.

A statement from the racecourse read: "A precautionary inspection will be held at 8am on Saturday morning due to the strong winds forecast on Saturday.

"The forecast wind strength increases further from 11am, so it is possible that the precautionary inspection will pass at 8am and then we will continue to monitor the conditions. A further inspection will be called if conditions deteriorate to the extent that the race meeting is at risk."


Haydock's Saturday card is also at risk, with a precautionary inspection announced for 8am at the Merseyside venue, due to the forecast of high winds.

Clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright insists "the forecast rainfall is not a cause for concern" ahead of a card which is due to feature the Unibet Grand National Trial and the Rendlesham Hurdle.

It is a similar situation at Wincanton, with a precautionary inspection announced for 8am because of the "increased certainty of high wind gust forecasts during racing".

It is one of the biggest days of the season at the Somerset circuit, with the Betway Kingwell Hurdle the feature event.

Lingfield's six-race all-weather card on Saturday is also subject to a morning inspection at 8.30am because of the forecast for strong winds.

Exeter, one of the first victims of the past week's storms, is in doubt again on Sunday - with an inspection called at 6pm on Saturday for the replacement card. The meeting was initially lost to Storm Ciara's gales last Sunday, and rearranged seven days later. This time, it is the amount of forecast rainfall which is causing concern - on ground already described as soft, heavy in places.

Market Rasen will also hold a 7am inspection on Sunday morning, to assess the effects of Storm Dennis before its scheduled six-race card.

Kempton will take the same precaution for Sunday's all-weather meeting, at 9am. The inspection announcements follow the abandonment of Sandown's Friday fixture because of waterlogging.

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper cited "several areas of false and unavoidable ground on both courses after yesterday's rain" - announcing the abandonment, via Twitter, of the seven-race Royal Artillery Gold Cup card shortly after 7am.

Tuesday's meeting at Bangor has also been called off due to a waterlogged track.

Plans ready if racing is off

Plans are already afoot to consider rearranging any important races lost to Storm Dennis this weekend.

Ascot, Haydock, Wincanton and Exeter are all due to host cards with vital races as the season builds towards the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National meeting.

On the back of last weekend's Storm Ciara, the Exeter meeting has already been rearranged once, with another bout of heavy rain and strong winds due to batter the country.

Inspections have been called at multiple tracks and the British Horseracing Authority is poised to take action should any feature races fall to the weather.

A statement said: "Ahead of an unsettled forecast this weekend, preparations are ongoing in case key races and opportunities are lost.

"On this basis we will review options on Sunday in conjunction with racecourses, trainers and the Levy Board to see what should and can feasibly be re-staged.

"We are mindful that some races may be important opportunities in relation to major spring targets and will factor this into the decision making process

"Should additional races or fixtures be considered necessary, we will aim to communicate this at the earliest time possible on Monday."

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