Hereford to sign off with plenty of runners

The current cold snap sees early (and sometimes late) morning inspections before pretty much every jumps meeting. One course where it looks as though things will go ahead without having to cross the inspection hazard is Hereford, which stages its final day of racing on Sunday.

Clerk of the course Keith Ottesen put his faith in the weather forecast yesterday, saying, “On Friday the current forecast gives us milder and wet weather, staying mild Saturday and Sunday with no overnight frost. We need that to be fairly accurate. Three days ago the forecast showed it to be frozen all the way through to the weekend and that would have given us some difficulties. As it stands we have no major issues but we’ll be keeping a very close eye on that.”

The final card looks set for a good turnout, as trainers have entered 227 horses for the seven races. One of those, in the final race, is Rifleman, trained nearby by Richard Lee, who has lots of fond memories of Hereford. He said, “I will be very sad to see the demise of Hereford. We hope it’s only going to be temporary, but who knows? It’s been very good to me. I had my first ever ride there and shall miss it terribly.”

Jim Allen, for owners Arena Racing Company (Arc), was making all he right noises about hoping the closure would only be temporary, but gave no indication that there was any hope of a resumption in the future. He had more of an eye on the attendance on Sunday, for which advance sales indicated a gate of around 2,000. Allen said, “Hopefully we’ll get more. It depends really how many walk up on the day and, of course, the weather determines how many come. Hopefully it will be a good day and there will be a bit of a buzz as well as a bit of sadness.”

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