Hurdle races abandoned at Sandown on Saturday

Sandown will stage an all-chase card on Saturday after the four scheduled hurdle races were abandoned following an inspection of the course on Wednesday afternoon.

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper warned at the start of the week that races over the smaller obstacles were under threat due to the recent heavy rainfall.

And while the hurdle track did survive a first inspection on Tuesday, a further check was initially called for Thursday before being brought forward following rain on Wednesday morning.

Ultimately, officials had no option but to call off the four races, including the Contenders Hurdle, which is a recognised trial for the Champion Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

A post on Sandown’s Twitter feed read: “Following this afternoon’s inspection, the Hurdles course is not raceable due to waterlogging and false ground. All hurdles races will be abandoned and @VirginBet Day this Saturday will be an all-chase card beginning at 1.15pm.

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“No further inspection is planned at this stage.”

The British Horseracing Authority had already made contingency plans to add two further chases to make a six-race card.

The meeting features the Grade One Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, as well as the Grade Two Cotswold Chase, which was saved from last Saturday’s abandoned meeting at Cheltenham.

Conversely, Wetherby’s fixture could be confined to hurdle contests with the chase track due to be inspected at 8am on Friday.

There three races planned over fences, including the Grade Two Towton Novices’ Chase, but the BHA has programmed a provisional all-hurdle card in case the course is not fit for action.

The track is already staging the rescheduled Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle, so two additional hurdle races would be added to create a seven-race card culminating with the scheduled bumper.

Declarations for the existing card will be taken at the usual 48-hour stage on Thursday, with entries for the two additional races closing at noon and declaring at the 24-hour stage on Friday.

Thursday’s meeting at Down Royal is subject to a precautionary inspection at 7.30am, while officials at Chepstow have called an inspection for 4pm on Thursday ahead of Friday’s fixture.

The meeting at Bangor on Friday week has already been abandoned due to damage caused by Storm Christoph.

The storm, which hit last week, brought an immense amount of water into the area and the course sits next to the River Dee.

As the river burst its banks, the infrastructure around the course suffered severe damage, so much so that the meeting next week will come too soon while the repairs are being carried out.

A tweet from the course read: “Due to significant damage from flooding caused by Storm Christoph, we have unfortunately had to abandon our fixture at Bangor-on-Dee next Friday 12th February.”

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