Talking Horses: Kempton abandoned after burst water pipe cuts off supply
Racing at Kempton on Wednesday is off and Nottingham on Thursday is under threat after the deluge in recent days, writes Tony Paley. Kempton called off Wednesday night’s scheduled meeting after a “major water burst” at Hampton Court cut off the water supply to the Sunbury track.
The Sunbury track was due to stage a seven-race card, but with the course struggling for running water, clerk of the course Barney Clifford has had no option but to call off proceedings. He said: “We were notified at around 9am that there was a major water burst in the Hampton Court area.
“We have very slow or no running water and with Thames Water unable to provide a timeline of when it will be rectified, we’ve unfortunately had to abandon racing due to both equine and human welfare. We have very little running water and we will run out before too long as things stand. We did manage to store some water for the horses that arrived overnight. “There is plenty of water coming out of the skies, but unfortunately nothing coming out of the taps!”
Meanwhile, Nottingham are to take a look at conditions at the east Midlands course on Thursday morning. In a statement on Twitter course executives stated: “The track remains race-able & is handling rainfall well, however there are areas of standing water in the public enclosures which could cause concern, & so based on the forecast we are calling a precautionary inspection for 8am Thursday.”
Uttoxeter are also going to take a look ahead of Thursday’s jumps card. The track posted on Twitter: “Following 40mm of rain within the last 24 hours, we are now calling a precautionary inspection which will take place at 8am tomorrow. We are currently raceable and are still hopeful of racing [on Thursday], however due to this evenings forecast we do need to monitor the situation.”
Racegoers trying to get to Royal Ascot next week face an increasing risk of travel disruption because of a proposed rail strike, reports Chris Cook. Workers with the RMT Union are currently planning a five-day walk-out which will coincide exactly with the Royal meeting, in which event there will reportedly be a skeleton service of two trains per hour on the Waterloo-Reading line that serves Ascot, as well as some rail replacement buses in the morning and evening.
Ascot’s Nick Smith said on Wednesday: “It does appear that at this moment we have to plan as if the strike goes ahead.” In that event, Ascot’s advice to its customers would be that they will meet delays and congestion if they attempt to travel by rail.Attempts to avoid same will, of course, lead to enormously increased pressure on the roads around Ascot, when those who would otherwise travel by rail jump into a car instead. Smith says the course has a number of additional sites for “pay on the day” parking that can be opened up to accommodate the additional traffic. It is estimated that 30,000 people travel to Ascot by train on the Saturday of the meeting alone, giving an idea of the scale of the problem that would be created by a strike. If it goes ahead, determined racegoers should set off earlier than they otherwise would.The strike arises from a long-running dispute between RMT and South West Railway about the presence of guards on trains. Industrial action was originally planned for February but suspended, the union saying it had received written assurances from SWR.
As I write, there is a Grand National’s worth of non-runners from today’s racing, 45 horses having been withdrawn, many of them over deteriorating ground conditions. The plentiful rain hasn’t exactly been a surprise, so I suppose this shows the quantity of optimism that washes around racing stables, where many people must have been hoping that the tracks they were targeting would avoid the deluge.Both my nap and NB tips have been taken out, a double to be proud of. In their absence, my interest is mainly in Yarmouth, where PJ McDonald could be in line for a productive afternoon. He’s an interesting, encouraging booking for No Trouble (3.30), who never got into the argument on his reappearance at Windsor last month under a 3lb claimer. The horse achieved little in three novice events last year for Jeremy Noseda but has been handed a low rating in consequence and could get involved if this step up in trip helps him, as one side of his pedigree suggests that it may.He was gelded and switched to a new yard over the winter, so there will be no shortage of possible explanations if he leaves his previous form behind. Having been 33-1 with some firms when betting opened, he has shortened to a general 14-1.An hour later, McDonald rides for Mark Johnston on Outside Inside (4.30), who fared well in a couple of runs on softish ground when based in Ireland. She’s been running well for Johnston without hitting the bullseye but this chance to race on ground with some give could make the difference. She’s 3-1 from the opening 11-2.Up at Haydock, Johnston’s Oasis Prince (4.20) has taken over as favourite for a small-field handicap. He is readily forgiven a disappointing effort in the Silver Bowl, when he was among the early rough-housing, and can return to winning ways at 6-4.Moon King (4.50) is the same price half an hour later, trying to extend his winning sequence to four, after a four-length win at Nottingham last week. I’d much rather be with Ralph Beckett’s runner than against him.