Racing: Swans delay start at Ripon

The trainer Ann Duffield described the situation that caused a delay to the start of the 4.10 race at Ripon yesterday as "appaling". The Grantley Maiden Stakes went off 30 minutes late after swans wandered on to the track - but that was not the only problem. Jockeys who were at the stalls in readiness for the start requested that sand be spread on the home turn.

The trainer Ann Duffield described the situation that caused a delay to the start of the 4.10 race at Ripon yesterday as "appaling". The Grantley Maiden Stakes went off 30 minutes late after swans wandered on to the track - but that was not the only problem. Jockeys who were at the stalls in readiness for the start requested that sand be spread on the home turn.

James Hutchinson, the clerk of the course, explained: "I sent someone to get the swans off the track and then we got a message asking for sand on the bend. I was then struggling to get in touch with my guy who was getting the swans off the course, whose job it would have been to put the sand on. The sand took longer to put on than was ideal."

Before dashing to Sedgefield, Mrs Duffield - whose Ripon runner, Blue Nun, was unplaced - launched a broadside at Hutchinson, claiming the jockeys had spoken to him about the problem at the last meeting.

She told him: "That was appaling. You've got one man with a silly little shovel. All those poor horses down there were in a right state. It was disgraceful."

The Ripon officials apologised to the crowd and a report is to be sent to the stewards of the Jockey Club.

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