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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


PA Sport reported today:

Officials at York are exploring all options, including taking the unprecedented move of racing on Saturday, as they bid to salvage the totesport Ebor meeting.

Tuesday's opening afternoon of the four-day Knavesmire fixture was abandoned following an impromptu 8.30am inspection, and Wednesday's action was called off hours later after further showers.

Hopes of racing taking place on Thursday and Friday hinge on a further inspection at midday on Wednesday, and clerk of the course and chief executive William Derby is "keeping all options open to enable us to keep racing".

Those options include bumper cards towards the end of the week, an extra day racing on Saturday or the possibility of races such as the Juddmonte International being moved to another venue at the weekend.

"We had an inspection this afternoon when we abandoned racing for Wednesday, and we will look again tomorrow for the rest of the week," he explained.

"We have a mixed forecast for the rest of the week of sunshine and showers.

"It is very frustrating as when we walked the course at 2.50pm it had dried up nicely with the brisk breeze and the sunshine we had earlier in the afternoon.

"We then had five millimetres in a sharp shower which put us back to where we were in the early hours of the morning.

"It is extremely frustrating for everyone and we are looking at options for Thursday and Friday.

"We are still hoping to race then and if we get a dry 24 hours then we are still hopeful of racing Thursday and Friday.

"We are also considering racing on Saturday and going through the implications and logistics of taking that unprecedented move.

"We are also looking at whether we can stage extra feature races on Thursday and Friday, including the totesport Ebor. We are making every effort to do that as it is our feature race.

"Ruth Quinn, the BHA director of racing, is in York and she is contacting other people including the Levy Board, other racecourses concerned and the broadcasters and those conversations are on-going."

Around 100,000 racegoers were expected to grace the Knavesmire this week, but none were aware of any problems until Tuesday morning when an inspection was called.

However, Derby defended his decision not to call a precautionary check.

"We walked the course on Monday afternoon and it was raceable," he said.

"We were also raceable Monday night and were forecast light showers and rain that may miss us. The Knavesmire takes the first five millimetres very easily and then gets to a level where it can take no more.

"There is no science or magical formula to that and it is very difficult to predict that tipping point, and we reached it in the early hours of the morning."

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