Cheltenham’s much-anticipated Trials Day has been abandoned due to waterlogging on the track, though it is hoped some of the key events from the meeting can yet be salvaged.
Officials at the course had done a great job of making everyone aware in the build-up to Saturday that the meeting was in danger, much higher than anticipated rainfall having occurred in the area this week.
An inspection, previously labelled as “precautionary” was called for 2pm on Friday, however the meeting could not be saved.
Officials Looking to Reschedule Big Two Events
By Friday morning the meeting was still in the balance, clerk of the course Simon Claisse confirming that some fences would be omitted. But, with standing water appearing on the course in several places the meeting is off and now it is all about Cheltenham and the BHA trying to rearrange some of the more important races.
For its part, the British Racing Authority has confirmed now that there is the potential for the Cotswold Chase and the Cleeve Hurdle to be rescheduled, although a final decision on the matter won’t be made until later in the weekend.
While the BHA is desperately keen to rearrange races that included runners such as Gold Cup hope Santini and Stayers’ Hurdle favourite Paisley Park, the weather outlook is fluctuating so much for the next few days that no concrete plans are in place for any single track to be able to take on the events.
We hope all of this will be cleared up by Sunday at the latest however.
Trials Day Cancellation a Problem for Trainers
As well as the Cotswold Chase being a major trial for the Gold Cup and the Cleeve Hurdle being an important prep for the Stayers’ Hurdle, several other races on Saturday were due to feature potential Festival candidates.
Time it has to be said is not yet running out for yards to get the requisite fitness into their Festival contenders, however some desperately needed some course experience before tackling Prestbury Park in the competitive environment of the Festival.
Santini was given an entry in the Grand National Trial at Haydock by trainer Nicky Henderson and could now head there, while Paisley Park’s connections were looking to avoid another brutal dual with Thyme Hill before March which now could be somewhat unavoidable.
All is not lost from a punting point of view in all this of course. Those who would have gone on to perform well on heavy ground on Saturday may well have been quoted false prices for the Festival, the ground being unlikely to be as deep come March 16th.
At the very least, the form book will not be skewed as much by mud-lovers taking honours this week only to be outpaced on the big day at the Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham Not the Only Racing Casualty
Having suffered due to the effects of COVID-19 last year and Arctic storms this, the racing schedule has now fallen foul of the heavy rain washing over the entire country and beyond in the past week or so.
Uttoxeter’s Sunday fixture has also been called off due to waterlogging, while Fairyhouse’s important card on Saturday in Ireland had to survive a Friday afternoon inspection in order to be given the go-ahead (for now).
There’s another precautionary inspection at 8am on Saturday at Catterick, a meeting that was hastily added to the calendar, while Hereford can no longer stage their Monday meeting due to the weather.
The loss of the Cheltenham card has once again had a big impact on the TV schedule, though ITV Racing will thankfully be showing four races from Doncaster where Shiskin runs, as well as three from Lingfield on the flat.