Extreme Heat Warning Forces Abandonment of Five Meetings

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Horses are being exercised extra early as the temperature rises | Emma Berry

The heatwave forecast to hit parts of Britain on Monday and Tuesday has forced the abandonment of five race meetings across those two days.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed on Friday afternoon that Monday's fixtures at Beverley and Windsor, and Tuesday's meetings at Chelmsford City, Southwell and Wolverhampton would not take place in light of the unprecedented red warning for extreme heat issued by the Met Office. These five tracks all fall within or are close to the parts of southern, central and eastern England where the temperature could be as high as 40 degrees celsius.

“The BHA's number one priority in the staging of any meeting is the wellbeing of all involved, human and equine,” said the BHA's chief operating officer Richard Wayman. “Following the issuing of the first ever extreme heat warning by the Met Office, we are taking sensible precautions and have made a decision as soon as possible in order to provide certainly for those impacted.”

Arena Racing Company (ARC) owns three of the courses that will lose fixtures – Windsor, Wolverhampton and Southwell – and its managing director of the racing division, Mark Spincer, was supportive of the BHA's decision. 

He said, “We have been in close dialogue with colleagues at the BHA throughout this period of warmer weather and have been operating with a number of resources in place to assist horses and people working on our racecourses. Whilst we had taken steps to mitigate against the higher temperatures initially forecast for Monday and Tuesday, including moving Southwell's race times to earlier in the day, the latest updates from the Met Office and the alerts issued this morning made it clear that it was within the best interests of all concerned to abandon these fixtures.

“We will be in touch with all customers who had bookings to these race meetings shortly, and our thanks goes to the BHA team for acting swiftly in changing circumstances.”

Chelmsford City's racing director Neil Graham took a similar view. “As ever, our primary concern is for the welfare of everyone visiting Chelmsford City Racecourse, both human and equine, and, therefore, we fully support the BHA in making this decision in such extreme conditions,” he said. 

The abandoned meetings will not be rescheduled but the BHA has advised that it will potentially add races to the schedule in the coming days to compensate for those lost.

The heatwave across continental Europe has also meant a change to the start time for racing at Vichy, which holds its week-long festival starting from Monday. Tuesday's meeting has been moved from the afternoon to the evening and will get underway at 8.15pm. On Wednesday evening the course hosts the G3 Grand Prix de Vichy, which features the Saudi Cup winner Emblem Road (Quality Road) and is set to go off at 9.45pm local time.

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