Sandown team monitoring weather ahead of jumps finale

Esher track is forecast rain ahead of Friday’s Flat action and Saturday’s National Hunt card

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A slightly uncertain weather forecast after a red-hot Bank Holiday weekend is giving Sandown’s clerk of the course Andrew Cooper pause for thought.

With a Flat meeting to prepare for on Friday and the finale of the National Hunt season on Saturday, Cooper has a tricky decision to make.

Rain is forecast from Wednesday, but with none having fallen for almost two weeks, a watering process has been ongoing.

“The sensitivity is probably greater for Flat racing, in all honesty,” said Cooper.

“It’s a tricky forecast in the sense that the volume of rain from Wednesday onwards sounds like it will be showery in nature and we all know what they can be like – especially at this time of year.

“Today is the fourth hot, sunny and dry day in a row with tomorrow similar and then it’s uncertain from Wednesday.

“We last saw rain on April 6, so a fortnight ago come tomorrow. We watered the Flat course this time last week which kept it near good going into the weekend.

“If we raced today, it would be good to firm. We’ll put five millimetres on today and I hope that will be it in terms of the Flat course, but we’ll continue on the jumps.

“If we hadn’t done anything today, I think it would have been approaching firm by Wednesday on the Flat course and it’s never nice banking on rain.

“We’ve been watering the National Hunt course for the last two or three weeks.”

A total of 26 have been left in the feature bet365 Gold Cup on Saturday, but the Oaksey Chase, Celebration Chase – which could see Altior and Cyrname clash – and Select Hurdle have all been reopened until Tuesday.

“Friday’s entries are very good, so we want to be racing on ground no slower than good – but that might be taken out of our hands,” said Cooper.

“As for Saturday, 26 are left in the bet365 with a couple who didn’t go to Ayr, some from Aintree and last year’s winner Step Back.

“We’ve had three races reopened, but under the old system they wouldn’t have been as they’ve got 11, 11 and 10 in, so one trainer must have a few in.

“What I can see is that a horse rated 178 is in the Oaksey and the Celebration, which must be Cyrname.”

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