It’s all in the water

Taunton's most notable feature

Taunton's most notable feature

The two spring meetings at Taunton racecourse are free from risk of firm going thanks to one of the oldest of natural skills - water divining.

Work starts to day to fill a new reservoir with 6,000 cubic metres of water and then link it to a round the track watering system. In a fortnight’s time the reservoir will be full. The course is spending £185,000 on the project which will enable the independent track to provide decent ground during the summer, and so extend its season throughout the year.

Yet this development came about almost by accident, and certainly required a leap of faith from the course management team, as chief executive Bob Young explained. “A fellow came along with two divining rods and said we should drill down for water where they crossed over. He stood in the middle of the course and they started moving, although I swear I saw his thumbs move,” he told the Racing Post. “It was a case of X marks the spot, so we dug sown and hit water. Then he walked around, they crossed again, we drilled down and struck more water.”

Young clearly feels that the investment is worthwhile to ensure that Taunton does not continue to lose lucrative meetings, as happened last April. He said, “You have to make a call. If you want to race in the spring, you have to be able to guarantee good ground, which is something we can now do. Last year our April fixture had to be switched to Newton Abbot because of the hard ground but now if the sun decides to start shining there will be no risk of losing it.”

Of course, this can’t help in any way when the rains come and the ground is waterlogged, as happened in January this year when Taunton was scheduled to hold its first £100,000 fixture. Much of the prize money from that has gone onto the 4 April card, safe in the knowledge that the track can water if necessary to provide good, safe ground.

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