Musselburgh forced to abandon Good Friday race meeting

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Musselburgh have been forced to abandon their Good Friday fixture next week because of ground conditions.

The East Lothian racecourse was all set to stage the first turf flat fixture in Britain this season, but work done on the flat track last year has been slow to mature. The £140,000 project was completed last July and centred on the bend past the winning line where the racing surface tends to take a lot of pressure, but the combination of a wet winter and low temperatures mean it is not yet ready for racing.

“We are gutted,” said Musselburgh boss Bill Farnsworth. “The new area looks great and walks well but, when Jim Goldie brought four horses to gallop around it last Friday in a trial, we were not happy.

“It is simply taking a lot longer than expected to dry out and the weather forecast for the next week is no help. We had fog this morning before the sun broke through but temperatures are only forecast to get to around 7 degrees maximum over the next few days.

“That will not be good enough and, although we staged flat racing last year on the jumps track, we can’t do that now as we have just completed our winter season and the jumps track has taken a bit of a hammering.

“We had 650 runners over jumps during the winter and the track has not had a chance to recover since our last jumps meeting in mid February.

“We could have taken a gamble and gone ahead, but felt that the risk of having to abandon nearer the day or on the day itself if we had heavy rain was just too great.

“It’s a major meeting and we felt that we needed to make an early decision so that the authorities have a chance of possibly switching the card elsewhere.”

Wetherby and Redcar have been mooted as in line for a possible switch. The latter are due to open their season on Easter Monday while Wetherby have been racing over jumps all winter and have a jumps meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, but they have a wide expanse of track and plenty of fresh ground.