Epsom – Weather And Tracks

Going is good

Epsom Clerk of the Course Andrew Cooper said yesterday that he doesn’t think there is any doubt it was going to stay dry and gradually get warmer over the next couple of days.

The Festival starts today with Ladies Day.

“Thursday was  forecast to be 21 degrees, around that sort of temperature, and yet it was actually only 13 degrees here Wednesday. There has been a little bit more in the way of sunny spells here this morning than we were forecast – we thought it was going to be overcast and a bit clammy for most of the day. There have been slight breaks in it and I think that is going to continue throughout the day.

“I am thinking something similar for Friday, though it will probably be a degree or so warmer with a brightening afternoon picture. I think we may start off with a bit of cloud cover in the morning, which should then clear away, and that heralds what should be a clear start and hot day here on Saturday, with temperatures in the mid-20s.

Oaks trophy

“We are obviously mindful that the Investec Derby is run as the fifth of seven races at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon. Our preparations to a large degree work backwards from there, but that is not to say that we should overdo things for the first day of the meeting, which I don’t think we have.

“We have got to a situation where I would call the going here today, Good. We did our last bit of watering – which we always had in mind – on Wednesday morning. Then we had a bit of rain that amounted to about 3mm, and walking it both after the rain and first thing this morning, I would have no hesitation in calling it good Flat racing ground. But with that forecast, it is only going to dry over the next 48 hours.

“Watering is an option that is very much at the back of our minds. We can wait until after the last race on Friday and see what conditions are like before making a decision. This is my 24th Derby and I think we have only irrigated on the Friday night for three of those. The first time we did it was in 2010, Workforce’s year. We will take stock of that and if we were to water, it would only be in the region of two and half to three millimetres, which is what you lose here on a warm day. It would be standing still from whatever point we reach at decision time tomorrow afternoon.

“We have saved a fresh strip of ground for the Saturday, which has been common practice here for many years. We save from basically the eight-furlong pole all the way to the winning line. It is basically four yards in width and adds 14 yards to the longer distance races tomorrow. That fresh would obviously hold its moisture that bit longer because it will not have been opened up through racing on Friday.”

Since 1967, 10 Derby winners have come from stall 10, whereas stall 11 has drawn a blank.

Cooper said: “You cannot deny the statistic, can you? But I think it is one of those staggering ones. You can understand why in a big field Derby that a low or high number has perhaps struggled, but for stall 10 to have as many winners as it’s had and 11 to have had none since stalls were introduced is inexplicable.

“I put the stalls for the mile and a half races in the centre of the course. Before 1996, the stalls were on the inside, which meant stall one had even further to go across to get over to that first dog-leg turn. I just took the view that were causing an unnecessary issue, so we put the stalls in the middle because they then have less of an angle to go at.

“Although I can’t work out the discrepancy between stall 10 and 11, you do tend to think that being drawn somewhere in the middle of a 16 to 18 runner Derby would give you the clearest run to that first point.”

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