City centre racing moved a step closer to reality on Wednesday morning with a successful public trial at Aintree that got a thumbs-up from jockeys and trainers.
The project has been likened by its backers to ‘cricket’s Twenty20’ for its possible effect on the sport’s profile, and it is hoped the first meetings will take place next year.
That will involve laying a temporary artificial surface – a three-furlong track was trialled at the Liverpool venue alongside the first five fences of the Grand National course.
Three demonstration races were staged on Equaflow, which was used for equine events in Greenwich at the 2012 Olympics, each involving eight horses racing at half-speed.
Jockey Dougie Costello said: “It’s only been laid two days but it feels as though it’s been there a long time, so it beds in really quickly.”
Jason Watson added: “It walks a bit slower than it rides but it rides really well, it’s similar to Newcastle and possibly even better.”
The hope is that two races in city centres will take place next year, with the venues to be announced in January, and City Racing chief executive Peter Phillips said: “This has been a good number of years in development, a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes.
“This is by no means the finished product. We’ll learn a lot from this and today is primarily about reassurance, to show we can race eight horses comfortably.”
- Racing Post