December 13, 2007 at 12:25 #5956steveh31Participant
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Huntingdon have abandoned there card 30 minutes before the first race after the track was given the go ahead to race after a 2nd inspection at 10.30am
Jockey Robert Thornton speaking on Racing UK wasn’t happy that officials have messed the jockeys and trainers around and said they should be aware of the conditions this time of year brings.
The sitaution also affected Taunton when they were told to delay there racing so as not clash with a delayed Huntingdon but after the abandonment Taunton were told to revert back to the original times.December 13, 2007 at 12:30 #130308davidjohnsonMember
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Clerk of the course is a lady called Fiona Needham. Foondly remembered for winning the Foxhunters in a bedraggled old wooly jumper with holes in it. Doesn;t have quite so good a record as a clerk of the course. She once appeared on the Morning Line declaring that racing at Warwick one day would go ahead before shortly after abandoning it, at the same track this summer, she presided over the farce of overwatering the bend so that all but 2 of the races at the meeting had to be abandoned. And then we have today.
She appears to be to clerking what Jane Stickels is to judging. Surely it’s time for her to walk or be pushed.December 13, 2007 at 13:03 #130322
reminds me of my first trip to huntingdon, we spent most of the morning phoning them on the way up in the car and they kept telling us to keep coming as it looked good, they took our money at the gate, served us dinner and then told us it was off, forcing us into a 100mph dash back to lingfield. don’t know if it was the same person or whether it’s just a requirement of the job to mess people about but they’re good at itDecember 13, 2007 at 13:09 #130325graysonscolumnParticipant
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Mind, wasn’t Fiona clerk of the course at Market Rasen before these two tracks and made a very decent job of it? She’s undeniably going through a bit of a bad trot at present, and whilst today’s actions will ultimately have been borne out of no greater a crime than wanting to give racing every possible chance of going ahead, the disquiet registered among those to have turned up was perhaps inevitable.
Having witnessed a pretty sharp frost barely an hour down the road in Hitchin this morning, I must say I didn’t think Huntingdon had a snowball in Hell’s chance of beating the elements, but there must have been enough of an improvement up to 10.30 in that neck of the woods to invite the ultimately ill-starred decision.
The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.December 13, 2007 at 13:11 #130327% MANParticipant
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Spot on with the comments about Fiona Needham – she really does need to consider her position.
I have no issues with the abandonment as such. I arrived at the course at about half eleven and it was obviously not in any fit state to race – the ground was like concrete.
What annoys me more than anything else is that if the ground was not in a fit state at 11:30 or 12:00, why was it announced to be fit for racing at 10:30.
Had they called a further inspection at 12:00, following the 10:30 inspection then the late decision to abandon would be more forgivable.
Yet another case of a clerk of the course being overly optimistic.
I am convniced that if we ever got the dreaded ‘four minute warning’ of an impending nuclear attack then our beloved clerks will announce, "don’t worry, carry on as normal, they may overshoot."December 13, 2007 at 13:16 #130330Gazs Way De SolzenMember
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Im not that far from Huntingdon to be honest and i was suprised that it wasn’t abandoned sooner.December 13, 2007 at 13:17 #130331thedarkknightParticipant
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Agreed. There was nothing wrong with optimism at 10.30am, but they should have called another precautionary inspection later to check that conditions had improved enough to make the course raceable. To have the course pass an inspection at 10.30 only to see the card abandoned at midday makes everyone involved look rather stupid.
Good to see Lydia asking Needham some tough questions on RUK…December 13, 2007 at 19:41 #130388
It was a disgrace.
Interestingly enough,. I have been told that the further inspection scheduled for midday [after the all clear for racing was given at 1030] had nothing to do with the temperature "dropping" and everything to do with a group of trainers and jockeys saying that the track was unraceable so demanding a further inspection.December 13, 2007 at 20:00 #130391
i notice on the rp website it states that racegoers were refunded but bars and restaurants kept open, as they were when we went 2 or 3 years ago and a similar late decision made, once everyone was in the course, tacking up horses and tucking into dinners and pints.
i’m not for one moment suggesting there were any financial motives, the people who travelled there were probably grateful for the refreshments.
however, if as a racecourse you have to pay people for turning up to work it must help to make some sales to go toward wages. kind of a mutually satisfying silver lining to the cloud, eh ?December 13, 2007 at 20:10 #130392roryParticipant
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I wasted the best part of four hours dragging myself up to see Bally Conn race (I say race, he’d have pulled himself up on the final circuit just for the hell of it ~ but that’s by the by) and was absolutely livid when I heard that it had been abandoned after passing an earlier inspection.
Fiona Needham is sailing very close to the wind when she claims that “the ground didn’t seem too bad” at 09:30, or indeed that it had improved considerably by 10:30. The ground was frozen at nine, frozen at ten, frozen at eleven and frozen at noon. Everyone who brought horses to the track had no illusions about the viability of racing and yet Ms Needham is given free rein by Jockey Club Racecourses* to misrepresent her customers to an enormous extent. When a track which is palpably unsafe is deemed raceable then owners, trainers, jockeys and the general public are effectively defrauded. I have to pay for the expense of taking my horse to the races and as the meeting was abandoned before I arrived, I get no compensation for my wasted journey.
Finally, why do I have to put up with the bloody word “precautionary”? An inspection of Cheltenham today before deciding to put down covers would be precautionary. Inspecting a frozen track three times (even the final inspection at 12 was deemed to be “precautionary”~ ye gods!! ) and pretending it might improve is in no way precautionary. I know, because I’ve looked it up in a bleedin’ dictionary.
* John Maxse went on record today to say: “The incidents at Warwick in the summer and Huntingdon today are of a completely different nature.
“Fiona is an extremely capable clerk of the course who has consistently overseen the delivery of racing surfaces at Huntingdon and Warwick that meet the high standards that are expected of all Jockey Club Racecourses.She retains the group’s full support and we are confident that the conclusion of the disciplinary panel’s inquiry into the Warwick abandonment will find that she was not culpable for the eventual outcome.”December 13, 2007 at 20:26 #130395
Well said Rory – I second all you’ve said!December 13, 2007 at 20:36 #130399roryParticipant
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Well said Rory – I second all you’ve said!
Even the bit about BC pulling himself up on the last circuit (sorry mate ~ theres only so many times I’ll gallop past a stable)?December 13, 2007 at 20:50 #130404TuffersMember
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She hasn’t the first idea about assessing the going either. She insisted on calling the going soft, heavy patches at Warwick one day when everyone knew it was no worse than good to softDecember 13, 2007 at 20:53 #130406
maybe she’s a good cook ?December 13, 2007 at 21:09 #130408
Well said Rory – I second all you’ve said!
Even the bit about BC pulling himself up on the last circuit (sorry mate ~ theres only so many times I’ll gallop past a stable)?
Ok, you’ve got me there – chances are he’d already have pulled himself up by the last circuit!
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