Jockey criticism unjust as new Kempton surface performs as expected

As expected, the re-laid Polytrack surface at Kempton Park, which has been put down to reduce kickback during racing, is running slightly differently to the old one. Clerk of the course Barney Clifford declared advance going of standard to slow last week, and maintained that for the first two meetings on the track on Monday and Tuesday.

That description had been agreed after testing with a couple of horses trained by Hans Adielsson, and ridden by Fergus Sweeney and Nicole Nordblad. Let’s hope that the slight additional knowledge they have of track conditions serves them well in today’s Stat of the Day!

It is, though, disappointing that the immediate reaction from jockeys after the first meeting was one of fierce criticism, with Richard Hughes describing conditions as “deep and desperate.”

Jim Crowley was concerned for the horses. He rode a winner on Fleur De La Vie, after which he said, “It is very slow – I hope it gets quicker as it is very hard work for the horses. We went steadily but they were still not finishing. It’s not fair on the horses and needs to be made quicker.”

Of course the horses can’t tell us what they think of it, but with four winning favourites on Monday, and one yesterday, along with a second favourite, it doesn’t seem to have bothered them too much, and certainly hasn’t caused any major upsets. And as Dave Edwards shows in the Racing Post, race times, whilst slower than usual, were not so out of kilter to justify the reaction from the jockeys.

Clifford, therefore, had good reason not to be downbeat about the criticism, especially as he had said all along it would take a few weeks to bed down. With another meeting today, and three more scheduled next week, Kempton is doing all it can to make that settling down period as short as possible.