Racing is well prepared as temperatures continue to soar, with highs of over 30C forecast for Thursday’s action.
The British Horseracing Authority offers extensive guidance on hot weather protocols, with access to plenty of water the key factor as the sport tries to beat the heat.
Robin Mounsey, the BHA’s head of media, said: “Horses are adapted to running in the heat, and racing takes place in Australia, Dubai and the USA – and other racing nations – in far more extreme heat than is experienced in Great Britain.
“However, we always put the welfare of our participants first and – as a precaution – take proactive measures when the temperatures rise.
“As an industry, we have experience dealing with these conditions and there are a number of measures that racecourses put in place to deal with periods of hot weather, for both human and equine participants.
“Racecourses are instructed that these should be put in place when temperatures are approaching 30C, and include the increased provision of cool water, areas of shade and earlier access to stables.
“Veterinary teams and racecourse staff are all on hand to provide care for horses after they have competed, and they are constantly keeping an eye out for any horses who show any signs of not coping with the heat before or after they race.
“Should there be any concern regarding the effect of the weather on the horses, the BHA – as the sport’s independent regulator – has the ability to take further action to ensure their welfare is protected, which could include looking at individual races to determine whether it is appropriate they are run, or in certain circumstances considering whether it is appropriate that racing goes ahead.”
Sandown has a seven-race card scheduled and clerk of the course Andrew Cooper admits keeping the ground is good shape is quite a task under the current conditions.
He said: “Heat is one thing, it’s just the dryness. We haven’t had rain here since Tuesday, May 29.
“I’ve never known a spell of dry weather like it. In the last week or so, and particularly in the last couple of days, the temperatures have picked up a lot and it makes a lot of difference in terms of how quickly the track dries out.
“As soon as you get into these high temperatures, it certainly makes the job that much harder.
“We’re pretty much flat out (watering), but we’re all in the same boat and we’re all trying our best.
“We’re putting on about five millimetres a day across the whole racing surface, which is in excess of two miles. That’s 35mm in the week, so that’s around an inch and a half of water.
“The track is mains fed by Thames Water and there’s been no issues so far in terms of water supply. I think that’s a legacy of good supplies after wet winters and certainly a wet spring.”
While many tracks have been turning on the taps to ensure a decent surface, that is not an option at Bath, which does not have a watering system due to its high location on Lansdown Hill.
The track raced on Wednesday and while the sun-parched ground may have had a negative effect on the number of runners, their charity race day took place without a hitch.
Just 28 horses competed for the seven races at the Somerset track with the ground officially described as firm, hard in places.
Lambourn trainer Seamus Durack had no qualms about running High Wells there and his four-year-old stayer obliged by winning the 188Bet Casino Handicap.
“He likes a quick surface and he’s run well at Bath in the past, so we had no reservations about that,” said Durack.
“I know it’s quick, but the good thing about it is at least it’s level. It’s not rough or dangerous. Some horses like it.”
Racing also took place at Lingfield and permission was given for the runners not to go into the parade ring before and instead be mounted in the pre-parade ring where there was shelter from the heat.
That track is operated by Arena Racing Company, who also run Worcester, and similar measures are expected to be employed at Thursday’s jumps meeting.
Sam Cone, ARC’s PR and communications manager: “There will be ample supplies of water in all different areas of the racecourse, including the stable yard and parade ring, and next to the track itself, along with mobile units in the chase vehicles that follow races so that horses can be washed down immediately, should they require it.
“We will not be utilising the winner’s enclosure and all horses, placed or otherwise, will be led to the wooded area beyond the saddling boxes, which is cooler, to be washed down by racing staff.
“Members of stable staff will be assisted by our experienced racecourse groundstaff team to do this and a vet will be present throughout to check on all horses before they return to stables post-race.”