Testing ground guaranteed, but Doncaster hopeful for weekend

Storm Babet continues to hit racing fixtures in Britain and Ireland but the forecast is less daunting for the major meetings scheduled to take place later this week.

The ground at Doncaster was described as heavy, waterlogged in places on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the Futurity Trophy weekend cards on Friday and Saturday.

However, the recent rain is expected to ease off at the South Yorkshire track, which is set to stage the final Group One contest of the season with Saturday’s Kameko Futurity Trophy Stakes.

Clerk of the course Paul Barker said: “We’ve had around 7mm today, which has taken us to heavy ground and it is just a bit waterlogged around the mile shoot, so we are seeing if we can do anything about that.

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“But the forecast is for things to improve later on this evening and then stay relatively dry until Thursday morning, when it should just be a case of getting a few showers, rather than the heavy stuff we’ve had since the weekend.

“So, once we get through today, hopefully everything will get a bit more manageable right through the rest of the week and we can start to put a plan together for Friday and Saturday.

“At least Friday’s entries were made after Saturday’s deluge and the Futurity is historically run on testing ground, so everyone who is planning to have runners are aware of what to expect.

“Other than that, all we can do is take it one day at a time and try our best to keep on top of everything.”

Cheltenham have no issues prior to kicking off their new season with The Showcase meeting on Friday and Saturday, when Grand National hero Corach Rambler and dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter could return to action.

“It’s really exciting to get going again and we’re in great shape,” clerk of the course Jon Pullin told Racing TV. “We’ve had a really beneficial summer from our point of view and the turf manager’s point of view.

“Whilst we’ve seen significant rain, which did cause some problems around areas of the site, fortunately the track took it really, really well. We’re in a good position.

“It’s currently good to soft in the main and the forecast is for little bits of rain between now and racing, so I’d envisage that staying the same.”

Newbury are also scheduled to race on Friday and Saturday, with a couple of Group Three events on the second of those cards – the Horris Hill Stakes and the St Simon Stakes.

The Berkshire track is described as heavy, soft in places, with the warning that it will not be able to take substantial rain.

The forecast is for another downpour tonight to be followed by a mixture of sunshine and showers.

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Clerk of the course George Hill said: “The bulk of the rain should be tonight but then it’s a variable forecast. It could be anything from 5mm to 10 or 15, or even an inch of rain.

“If we’re talking those higher kind of quantities over a 24-hour period, we’d be very much up against it, but the track is in good shape for this time of year and we’ll just have to hope for the best and see what we get.”

Tuesday’s meeting at Yarmouth and the Wednesday card at the Curragh were the latest casualties of Storm Babet and a sustained spell of heavy rain.

That followed last Saturday’s scheduled meetings at Stratford and Market Rasen being lost to the weather, along with Wednesday’s Worcester card and four upcoming fixtures at Southwell.

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