Jockeys take early bath in Bath

Bath weighing room

Bath weighing room

The irony of what Bath owners Arena Racing company called “localised flooding” that led to the abandonment of racing there yesterday is that it occurred at Britain’s highest racecourse.

For once, it wasn’t flooding on the racetrack that meant racing had to be called off, but problems in the weighing room. Bath and the surrounding area was deluged by over half an inch of rain on Saturday night, and further downpours during Sunday morning meant that the drains were unable to cope with the amount of water. When is started backing up, bringing both an unpleasant smell and a dump of sewage into the jockey’s sanctum it led them tell the stewards it was time for an early bath.

Richard Hughes, Jimmy Fortune and George Baker led the delegation, with the latter buttonholing clerk of the course Keith Otteson to ask him, “Conditions are a disgrace – would you work in here if that was your office?”

Another jockey, Luke Morris, explained in more detail the problems, saying, “The smell was pretty bad to start with and got worse during the afternoon. Our gear was soaked in the water, but the main concern was that the worst of the smell was a few yards from the food counter. It had to be a health concern.”

There was recognition that the situation was not the fault of local staff at the course, with valet Ian Lawrence acknowledging that general manager Katie Stephens had bought an additional washing machine for their use out of her own pocket.

But neither was it the first problem Bath has suffered recently. Two years ago the track had to put on an all sprint card after safety concerns on the track after one horse slipped up on the final bend. Then in May this year the grandstand was closed after it was damaged last winter. It’s hoped that will be open next season, but ARC cannot confirm that the necessary repairs will be complete when racing resumes on 19 April next year. It may now have a different priority in its work programme.

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