BHA hoping to save Ayr Gold Cup following cancellation of three-day meeting

Fri 22 Sep 2017

Racing's governing body is still hoping to save the Ayr Gold Cup after the Scottish course had to abandon its entire three-day fixture due to an unsafe patch of ground caused by heavy rain.

Officials are working to reschedule the race at another course in the near future while Ayr gets to the bottom of the problem that caused the three days of racing to be lost.

Richard Wayman, chief operating officer for the British Horseracing Authority, said: "The BHA has been working with Ayr to consider alternative options for staging a replacement meeting in the coming days."

He continued: "However, the agreed position between the racecourse and the BHA's course inspectors is that the condition of the turf and the prevailing weather conditions make it extremely unlikely that the course would be in a position to stage a replacement race meeting in a short timescale.

"We are doing the best we can to try to save the Gold Cup itself, which is such an valuable race for horsemen and important betting event.

"We will provide an update on this as soon as we are able to.

"Separately, the BHA has requested a report from the racecourse executive regarding the circumstances surrounding the last few days, including exactly what the issue with the track is, what has caused it, what procedures are in place to address the issues, their prospects of racing at other forthcoming fixtures and the communication around the fixture cancellations."

Ayr was left counting the cost after cancelling its biggest Flat meeting of the year, with the estimated loss to the local economy possibly running into seven figures.

"Obviously it's our biggest Flat meeting of the year and second biggest of the year in Scotland," said Iain Ferguson, head of PR at Ayr.

"It's hard to put a figure on it but it's a considerable amount of money, probably into seven figures I would say.

"It's not just the racecourse itself, it's the local community. It's traditionally the second biggest weekend of the year in the area and the last hurrah of the summer.

"People plan their holidays around this and it's a local holiday as well too, so it's a massive blow.

"The track was raceable on Wednesday and we had 17 millimetres overnight on Wednesday into Thursday and that was when the problem came on the ground two and a half furlongs out."

That amount took the total rainfall to unprecedented levels for the area.

"We've had 180 millimetres, or seven inches of rain, in the last five weeks," said Ferguson.

"The water table is particularly high. It's as high as most locals can remember it. We had no option but to abandon."

As a consequence of the loss of Ayr, the BHA agreed with ITV to adjust the race schedule at Newmarket so that three races can be included from there as replacements.

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