Boxing Day weather watch at Wetherby Racecourse

First published in Horse racing York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

THE fate of Wetherby Racecourse’s big Boxing Day meeting depended on an 8.30am inspection.

The Grade 3 Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase is the highlight of a six-race card that kicks off a two-day meeting at the West Yorkshire track – but it must come through a check this morning.

Heavy rain which has battered the course over the last few days left part of the track waterlogged and, following an inspection on Christmas Eve, chief executive and clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson has decided to take another look.

“Sunday was dry, bright and sunny and we have seen the expected improvement,” he said on Christmas Eve.

“Around 70 or 80 per cent of the waterlogging has gone and we now have some small areas of standing water which we could probably weave around.

“We have a mixed forecast for with anything from half an inch to a couple of millimetres forecast, so we will have a look at 8.30am today.”

With the Castleford Chase the highlight of tomorrow’s second day, Sanderson, who admitted his wife is getting bored of him “looking at weather forecasts” every year, is hoping it turns in his favour.

Weather claimed the meeting in both 2009 and 2010 and, in terms of numbers, it is the track’s biggest of the year.

“Four years ago, which was my first, we had 13,000 and it was just over 11,000 last year for the two days,” he added.

“That was because we were off for two years in a row. This year, advance ticket sales are looking very similar to last year.

“The Rowland Meyrick is a very good race, a Grade 3, that always throws up a good winner. The Castleford is not the graded race it used to be but it is a Class 2 handicap and it has a very good place.

“It’s not full of regular racegoers and has always attracted the once a year spectator. It is a traditional meeting.

“They are a huge part of Wetherby’s season.”

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