Lingfield latest track to encounter ground issues on a bend

Lingfield became the latest venue to encounter safety issues, with two races on the round course abandoned on Monday following a scare for William Buick in the opener.

Following on from Beverley on Wednesday, Haydock on Friday evening and Chester on Saturday, yet another meeting was in the news for the wrong reasons.

It was Buick’s mount Cu Chulainn who lost his footing in the Download The At The Races App Handicap, with the Classic-winning rider and his mount fortunate to stay upright as the field turned into the straight.

A deputation of jockeys, trainers and officials went to inspect the suspect area as rain continued to fall on ground described as good to firm. The decision was subsequently taken to abandon the next two races on the round course with racing resuming with race four, the Free Tips Daily On Maiden Fillies’ Stakes over seven furlongs.

Trainer George Baker was part of the delegation inspecting the track and said: “I think it’s the result of a very unfortunate number of factors for all involved.

“George Hill (clerk of the course) does an excellent job at Lingfield, but we’ve had a bit of rain and the jockeys’ opinion holds a lot more opinion than mine and even I could see horses had slipped on that bend in the first race.

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“You could see where William’s horse had slipped and it was a no-brainer to cancel the other races round the bend.

“It’s unfortunate that this seems to be happening, for whatever reason, too often at the moment, but wiser people than me will work out why that is.”

John Flint saddled the fourth-placed Carp Kid in the opening race and feels grass length could be a contributory factor to the safety issue.

He said: “The track walked, with a stick, very, very well, but you could see where the horses had slipped at the top of the bend and at the bottom just before they start to quicken into the straight.

“In the interests of safety, the right decision was made as the last thing you want is to have an injured jockey or an injured horse.

“They have watered, whether the water has run off we don’t know, but walking it prior to racing and putting the stick in, you’d think it was nice, good ground.

“We did have a drop of rain probably 20 minutes before we went into the pre-parade ring, whether that was a contributing factor I don’t know, but the right decision was made.

“It’s a thankless job these clerks have got. Walking the track that bend was good, but the horses weren’t making an imprint – they were sliding off the top.”

Trainer John Flint at Huntingdon
Trainer John Flint at Huntingdon (Simon Marper/PA)

Flint added: “You could say the grass was maybe a little bit long and with that rain it’s just gone greasy on top. Personally, I feel the ground maybe could have been a little bit shorter and with that drop of rain we may have got away with it.

“It’s not very good. We run a professional service for everybody and I don’t know how we look at it. You can’t blame the clerk of the course because it did walk as safe ground.

“It’s very difficult. Maybe you can get a couple of jockeys, a couple of trainers and a couple of clerks to sit down and come up with certain ideas.”

Clerk of the course George Hill told Sky Sports Racing: “Mr Buick’s horse in race one slipped turning into the straight and following an inspection it resulted in races two and three on the round course being abandoned.

“I haven’t prepared the track any differently than I have the last few weeks and this is our fourth turf meeting this month. We’re on the same line so it’s not like we’ve been moving rails.

“Our bends are GPS surveyed and all marked out. It’s not the radius of the bend that’s the issue, there’s more moisture in the track than there was for the Derby and Oaks trials.

“I’m scratching my head to figure out why that horse has slipped and we’ll have a review and we’ll have people come out and assess it next week in case it’s something we’ve missed.

“I can only apologise to the connections of horses in races two and three and ARC (Arena Racing Company) will reimburse for those races.

“Today was our last turf meeting and we’re investing in a drainage project which will start next week, that was all pre-planned to improve the track.

“Whether it’s to do with growing conditions (I don’t know), I’ve prepared the track the same but I couldn’t speak for other tracks.”

William Buick nearly came down in the first race
William Buick nearly came down in the first race (David Davies/PA)

Buick said: “I’ve never known it like this ever before, but they are slippy tracks and hopefully they can be corrected.

“Hopefully the tracks have learned and going forward we don’t get these half days or no days because they are frustrating for everyone.”

In a statement regarding the recent spate of incidents, the BHA said: “The BHA is speaking to the racecourses, participants and our teams of course inspectors to determine whether any common cause can be found between the four fixtures which have been impacted by race cancellations.”

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