Thursday, 4 October 2012

I'm Going To A Jumps Meeting At Chester!


Ever thought of going to Chester to see jump racing? Well, in a couple of years' time it could literally be on the cards. Trials are to take place when half a dozen horses supplied by the local trainer Donald McCain will be schooled over two miles at the course, jumping eight hurdles with four deployed round each mile-long circuit and additional rails laid out to aid horse and rider.
The Roodee is one of racing's oldest venues and the British Horseracing Authority said trials are at an early stage.
Andrew Thornton and Richard McGrath, both currently sidelined through injury, will attend the session to represent the Professional Jockeys' Association and the BHA's northern racecourse inspector, Chris Dennis, is also set to be there to gather feedback from those taking part.
Robin Mounsey, the authority's communications spokesman, stated that jump racing at Chester could not begin before an exhaustive process had been completed. "At the moment we are dealing with a hypothetical situation and, although we will be represented, a large number of boxes would need to be ticked before we could start to consider the possibility of jump racing taking place at Chester," he said.
McCain stated: "It would be great to see hurdlers going around there."
Thornton said: ''I take my hat off to Chester for taking the initiative." I know people will have their doubts as Chester is renowned as being a tight track but Fakenham is just as sharp and nobody bats an eyelid there.''
"I suppose one of the main things to consider would be the siting of the hurdles. We'll also be looking at run-out areas but Chester has always seemed like a big, wide, open space, so that shouldn't be a problem.
"The ground wouldn't be a problem either as Chester quite often catches a shower, particularly at this time of year which is when they are talking about racing."
Chester's clerk of the course, Andrew Morris, confirmed that the inclusion of hurdle contests was one of a number of possible plans under investigation by the track, whose management showed their independence when kicking out the Tote pool betting service offered at Britain's other 57 tracks in favour of running their own on-course operations.
Some historians believe that racing at Chester is Britain's longest-standing sporting event, contests having been first documented on the Roodee in 1540 and interrupted since by only the Civil War and the two World Wars. Racing over jumps has taken place only very rarely during that time.
A Horsemen's Group board meeting reached no agreement over the future funding of the organisation, which represents stakeholders such as owners and trainers in negotiations with racecourses. With a request for Levy Board funding refused earlier this year, the Horsemen's Group has been forced to seek financial support from within in order to continue work that has led to rising prize-money levels at a number of tracks.
The chief executive, Alan Morcombe, remained "positive" for the future. "We adjourned a decision in order to get some further information," he said. "I hope to be able to make a full announcement next week."
What do you think?

Source: Guardian