York’s big races saved for weekend meetings

Every flood has its Ararat. By noon yesterday the York executive had conceded that the Knavesmire would not become raceable today or tomorrow, and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) wasted no time in loading precious prizes up the ramps, pretty well two by two. The dove did not take long to return with an olive leaf.

The Juddmonte International Stakes will now be added to the card at Newmarket on Saturday, while a series of other Group races have found sanctuary elsewhere. After three days of starvation, indeed, the betting public will now be offered a bewildering banquet.

Two more Group One prizes, the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, will be contested at Newmarket tomorrow, while the Ebor Handicap – renamed for one year only as the Totesport Newburgh Handicap – goes to Newbury the same afternoon along with the Gimcrack. The Ladbrokes Great Voltigeur will be run at Goodwood on Saturday

Nowadays, happily, the sport is safe to assume that its best races will be salvaged, reliably and resourcefully, from bad weather. It was not ever thus, of course, and certainly the authorities have never previously been obliged to rescue quite so many Flat races.

The loss of all four days of the North's most prestigious Flat meeting will have required the BHA to bang plenty of heads together, in the hope of persuading any obstinate racecourses, broadcasters and sponsors to see the bigger picture. In some cases, inevitably, they will have failed, but they have certainly done their duty to the racing public. Whether the York management can say the same of their own performance this week is another matter. Their interpretation of the weather forecast on the eve of the meeting proved recklessly optimistic, which was always going to invite suspicion in view of the fact that they had insured their projected profits for the meeting.

At least they have recognised that the racing surface itself has become the one hole in York's otherwise watertight credentials as an outstanding venue, with an admirable clerk of the course in William Derby. By a bitter irony, the track was already scheduled to close until the Dante meeting next May, for a £2.5m redevelopment, incorporating extensive new drainage.

Nicholas Wrigley, the course chairman, resented some of the criticisms made yesterday. "We are very sorry for everybody, but I feel especially sorry for William and his team as they have worked incredibly hard," he said.

"It is also very disappointing to hear suggestions about our motives for racing to be abandoned. There is no financial incentive for us to abandon. We are here to race, we want to race, and in the sense that we are a not-for-profit organisation then the whole committee does want to race.

"The decision we had today was if the track was raceable on Thursday and whether it was worth going through the agonies of prolonging it for another day, and the possibility of racing Friday and Saturday. You only have to look at the level of the river and the water table, and the further severe weather warning we have just received for more rain. In life you always have difficult decisions but this one was quite straightforward."

As it happens, with the obvious exception of York's taverns and taxi drivers, many will be very satisfied by the way things have turned out. Chief among these will be trainers, not least Aidan O'Brien, who is understood to be eager to run Duke Of Marmalade on better going in the rescheduled Juddmonte International Stakes. Jim Bolger had meanwhile been reluctant to run New Approach in bad ground following his lay-off.

Punters, too, will know that they have probably been spared a bloodbath. The betting industry was reckoning on a dip in turnover of £100m from the loss of the Ebor meeting. In heavy ground, much of that would have been clear profit.

l Tomorrow's evening meetings at Newcastle and Hamilton are both subject to inspections today at noon and 2.00 respectively.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Lagavulin

(Fontwell 5.25)

NB: Soviet Sceptre

(Stratford 2.30)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent