In the UK, we really shouldn’t moan when a bit of decent weather comes along – after all, beggars cannot be choosers.
This week it is being predicted that a heatwave from Africa is on its way, with temperatures as high as 36°C expected – it’s been reported that the record for the hottest July day ever, at 36.7°C, could be broken.
That’s great news for sun worshippers, but not so much for racehorse owners who have the tough task of keeping their horses calm and cool during what is a stacked week of flat racing.
Usually, we are worried about the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National going ahead due to snow and frozen ground, so this is a nice – albeit significant – problem to have.
The King George Weekend at Ascot, which of course features the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes in which the likes of Enable and Crystal Ocean will go head to head, is the most prominent action this week, but tracks including Sandown, Southwell and Yarmouth also have their own fixtures to fulfil.
Welfare Top of the Agenda
Is it cruel to race horses in temperatures on the upside of 30°C? The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed they will be doing all they can to ensure that the welfare of the participants in the UK and Ireland’s varied mix of meetings this week.
Thoroughbred horses are trained to run in hot temperatures in places like Dubai, Australia and the USA, but the BHA has reiterated that no stone should be left unturned in keeping runners hydrated and cool this week.
All courses that are hosting meetings this week are being urged to increase their provision of ice packs and cold water, with more casual staff employed to ensure that the service is maintained. Shaded areas will be set up for horses to keep cool in prior to entering the paddock and racing too.
The BHA will also have members of their team on-site to inspect conditions, and ensure that measures to help combat the hot weather are maintained.
They can, in extreme cases, take further action, including the postponement of fixtures, if they believe it is necessary with the mercury rising. However, at the time of writing, there was said to be no danger of the King George being shelved despite the incredible temperatures expected at Ascot and beyond.
The Heat Is On
Meanwhile the UK is not the only part of the world where racing is potentially being affected.
Over in the USA there is a raging heatwave along much of the eastern section of the country, with Monmouth Park in New Jersey taking the decision to cancel all of their weekend racing as the thermometers reach a staggering 41°C.
These are high profile cancellations too, with the $75k Spruce Fir among those to have been postponed.
Meanwhile, last week another high profile meeting at Saratoga racecourse was also scrapped on Saturday due to the heat. It was the first time in more than 13 years that racing has been cancelled at the famous track due to the weather.