Huntingdon card called off due to flooding at the track but race could be saved by BHA

Floods at Huntingdon Racecourse
Floods at Huntingdon Racecourse

The British Horseracing Authority will try to restage just one race from Friday's abandoned card at Huntingdon, despite Nicky Henderson's suggestion that the whole fixture could be transferred to Sunday.

Officials were forced to call off the card after the brooks around the racecourse burst their banks following overnight rain, which meant while the track remained raceable, the surrounding areas flooded, creating a health and safety risk.

The Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle, set to feature Gary Moore's exciting Goshen, was due to be the highlight of an interesting card and Henderson had been eager for the BHA to consider rescheduling the entire meeting after the late cancellation.

Speaking before the BHA decided against the idea, Henderson said: "This is nobody's fault. I have spoken to the BHA and I've said 'you only have Kelso on Sunday, if everybody wants to have a go'.

"We need it as there are good races for a lot of horses. There is no point just running the Chatteris Fen - run the whole card and don't change it. Declare again tomorrow if you want to. There is only Kelso and it won't effect anybody.

"You are not taking anything away from anybody. The logistics, I accept, are difficult, but I can't believe it is impossible. To be fair, in a lot of these situations, the BHA are making a big effort."

However, a BHA spokesman said on Friday afternoon: "The decision to add to the existing race programme, whether that is individual races or fixtures, is dependent on the requirements of the existing schedule as a whole.

"Whenever a fixture is lost, there is always a process of evaluation as to whether specific opportunities have been lost and whether the program in its entirety has suffered, which is particularly relevant in periods of sustained and considerable fixture loss.

"Having been through that process for today's fixture at Huntingdon, we are of the view that there are alternative opportunities for the horses declared to run today in the coming weeks, with the exception of the novice handicap chase (Weatherbys Racing Bank Chase).

"We have offered out the opportunity to stage this race to racecourses with a deadline of Monday and should a suitable replacement venue be found, we will communicate that to trainers early next week."

There appeared to be no alarm at Huntingdon until just before 10am, when the first inspection was called for 11am, with officials noticing the surrounding waterways were rising and there was a possibility of them breaching the racing surface.

After the first inspection, a second was called for noon - but before then, water was flooding into areas which made the racecourse unsafe, and the decision was taken to call the meeting off.

Clerk of the course Jack Pryor said: "We had eight millimetres of rain overnight and when I walked the track first thing, there were no concerns.

"Subsequently the brooks began to rise and we are on a flood plain - unfortunately they've trickled towards the racecourse.

"We first noticed there might be a problem around 9.15am and have monitored the situation since then, inspecting at 11am and at the time it wasn't on the track.

"However, it was continuing to flow and it just kept on rising, so from a public safety point of view, we've had to abandon.

"Frustratingly the course is raceable, but later on this afternoon it might not be."

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