The new flat season at Folkestone lost most of its first meeting yesterday when a terrific thunderstorm rendered the ground untraceable. On a day that showed up the unpredictability of British weather, the two jump meetings at Aintree and Newton Abbot enjoyed glorious sunshine.
Even before racing began there had been a brief hailstorm. As the riders left the parade ring for the first race, this turned into a storm of such intensity that you were left expecting Macbeth’s three harbingers to appear out of the sleet, snow and wind. Quite what impact it will leave on the four two year olds who contested the first race in driving rain is anybody’s guess.
By the time the second race had taken place Clerk of the Course Roderick Duncan reported that 21mm of rain, in old money more than ¾ of an inch, had fallen in less than an hour. This might not have been too much of a problem on flat track, or on a quick draining circuit like Brighton, but it led to major problems in Folkestone’s undulations.
Jockeys reported the ground unraceable. An inspection by track officials, along with trainers Stan Moore and Tony Carroll, and jockeys James Doyle and Martin Harley (both of whom had already ridden) supported that view when they found the dips on the straight course had filled with water.
After the announcement of the abandonment Tony Carroll said, “Safety is always the issue and sometimes they can go over the top with it, but today it is the right decision – it is bad out there and there is a lot of water lying in the dips.”
The jockeys were pretty certain that an abandonment would happen, and many were changed and ready for a quick getaway the moment confirmation came through. Not so the poor racegoers, who had to queue for a refund of half their entrance money.