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Cheltenham fresh strip of ground

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    Walking the track at Cheltenham on Thursday it struck me that the idea of railing off a 3 or 4 yard strip of ground near the rail is a fundamentally flawed idea. On the Friday the turf that had already been raced on had been opened up – hoof prints all over the place – and would be appreciably quicker then the virgin strip on the rail once the wind and sun had done there job. The horses would also have done their bit by compacting the turf. There are only six races run over the track so surely it is fair to have every part of the track subject to any changes due to horses racing on it rather than to have a relatively small area that must ride differently to the rest of the track.

    Two horses that visibly accelerated on the Friday – Kauto Star and Andreas did so on the part of the track that had been raced on the previous day whilst their opponents were racing on the virgin strip. Would they have quickened  as well next to the rail, perhaps, but I have my doubts.

    • Total Posts 2923

    Don’t know what you’re talking about bear :confused: you’re the first person I’ve heard query it yet alone complain. I thought they’d opened considerably more than 3 yds, have any of the participants moaned about it? if they did, what was to stop them running on the faster ground?

    (Edited by yeats at 7:57 pm on Mar. 17, 2007)<br>

    (Edited by yeats at 10:53 pm on Mar. 17, 2007)

    • Total Posts 2065

    so bear if Kauto Star had run through on the inside and Exotic Dancer the outer what would the winning margin of been?

    • Total Posts 897

    Why do you think "opened up" ground is faster?

    Colin Little
    • Total Posts 338

    I think it’s an interesting comment re the relative merits of the going on the fresh/old ground.

    It’s started me on an old bugbear of mine, slightly off topic, but is connected with the running rails.

    When a running rail is moved out like this to protect a strip of ground, what about the extra distance all those horses have had to run?  Sure, in the context of a specific race it doesn’t make much difference (unless you’re on a doubtful stayer). For time comparison purposes though, it makes turf comparisions even more unreliable than they already are.

    I think it would be a pretty safe bet to say that the starts are not reposistioned, or courses remeasured, when this type of thing goes on. In fairness to Cheltenham, it happens all over the country (on flat courses as well where you can argue the speed comparisons are more crucial).


    • Total Posts 143


    Certainly no more than 3 or 4 yards was ‘fresh’ ground and I would estimate the width of the fences to be around 20 yards. As for what’s to stop them running on either fresh or opened up ground – nothing other than choice.


    I happen to think Kauto Star is Champion the Wonderhorse and would have won whatever the circumstances. I am just pointing out that between the bend and the 2nd last he was running on ground which differed to that being raced on by the other runners.


    The opened up ground would have had hours of sunshine and wind to dry it out to a greater extent than the ‘fresh’ strip which was not opened up and therefore better protected by the grass cover. If it had rained before racing on Friday the opened up ground would then have been softer than that on the inside as the water would have been able to ‘get in’ more.

    All I am saying is that races of such magnitude should be run on ground identical for each runner wherever possible.  Having a 3 horse width strip different to the rest of the track is wrong.

    • Total Posts 5111

    I’d agree that if fresh ground is to be used then it would be fair and wise to ensure it was wide enough for the whole field to use, if wished. However that said I can’t really see the opened up ‘faster’ ground on Friday conferring an advantage on those that used it, as although it may have been superficially quicker, it was quite probably more rutted and loose than the fresh ‘slower’ ground so horses racing on the fresh ground may well have cancelled out any advantage those had on the outside by a) having a better foothold and b) having less distance to travel.

    In an ideal world the GC would be the first chase run on the New Course…

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