The severe winter weather has not yet finished playing havoc with racing. The latest course to be affected lies high up on the Sussex downs at Brighton. The long winter, and extended wet and cold spells combined have led to very slow growth of new grass.
The course was offering free entry to its first meeting on 25 April, but this, along with the next two, have had to be abandoned and switched elsewhere. The April meeting is now an all weather card at Lingfield, the 2 May card moves to Chepstow, again in the evening, and there will be a new card at Yarmouth on 7 May.
It all means that racing at Brighton won’t get under way until 21 May, but clerk of the course Ed Arkell is confident they will not encounter any further problems. He told the Brighton Evening Argus, “We have been closely monitoring the track at Brighton throughout the closed period and really it is a case of severe weather having had quite an effect on a very exposed surface. This has meant the grass just hasn’t grown or recovered from last season and we would prefer not to race on it at the moment.”
He added that the increase in temperature over the past week was helping the grass to grow, so today’s forecast of 16C will help even more. Arkell added, “We will definitely be racing on May 21.”
The loss of three fixtures won’t help the balance sheet at a course that lost over half a million pounds in the year ending 31 March 2012, and a similar amount the previous year. But general manager Stuart Dorn wasn’t too worried, and said that the track would be able to absorb the loss. He reckoned that the three meetings would have attracted an attendance of 6,400 between them, but that free entry for the opening fixture would have left attendance takings of just £25,000. With an average spend at the course, betting aside, of just £3.50, he estimated total losses would be in the order of £30,000.
He said, “We are confident we can take this hit. We hope to gain two fixtures later in the season which will help us recoup the money lost for the abandonment of these races. It is not catastrophic. The losses are sustainable. We are still here.”