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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Huntingdon cancelled as Storm Doris batters Britain

Huntingdon: Thursday's meeting was cancelled due to high winds
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Thursday's meeting at Huntingdon has been cancelled less than two hours before the first race was due to take place on account of high winds from Storm Doris.

Around 8mm of rain had fallen at the track in the previous 24 hours, leading to a host of non-runners, but as high winds started to cause problems, officials met and called the meeting off shortly before noon.

Clerk of the course Jack Pryor said: "Unfortunately we've had to abandon due to health and safety concerns to both the track and the public on site.

"We're struggling to keep the wings and the rail up and we've had a couple of branches come down, so it's in everyone's interest we abandon."

He added: "It's very disappointing but I think it’s in everyone's best interest. We didn't have any really strong winds up until 30-40 minutes ago. We were about 25mph for most of the morning and thought we were getting away with it quite lightly, but it's hit us hard in the last 30 minutes.

"We've registered up to 47mph already and it's due to continue for the next couple of hours, so there's a continued risk and the possibility of more damage."

Asked if he had considered calling an inspection at any stage with Storm Doris widely forecast earlier in the week, Pryor added: "It was never in my head to have an inspection. We were forecast strong winds but were we expecting them to cause the damage they have done? No.

"It's an element of public safety as well. I've taken advice from our safety officer and general manager, and they're not comfortable letting people on site.

"We had to give racing every opportunity to go ahead but it's got progressively worse and we're now in the position we're in. It could have dropped equally as much as it has risen.

"It's hugely frustrating. We had some great fields today and were really looking forward to running the mares' race for the second time."

Although not involved with the decision to cancel, stipendiary steward Chris Rutter felt the right decision was made.

He said: "It's the clerk of the course's decision and I think it's the correct one. He had concerns about the track because he could see the wings and rail were coming down and it's due to peak between 1pm and 2pm.

"Someone said there's a tree down on the horsewalk, so that's a concern, and I think he's made the correct decision." 

There were no complaints from riders either, with the general consensus that common sense had prevailed.

Trevor Whelan said: "It's lethal and too dangerous. It would be different if it was a head-on wind but it's a cross wind and it's an open track. To be fair the winds were forecast for different times and it's just one of those things."

Will Kennedy said: "It's disappointing but common sense. The wings aren't going to stay up and you can't be galloping down to an obstacle then a wing comes down. The course wants to race and so do the jockeys so you've got to give it every chance."

Unfortunately we've had to abandon due to health and safety concerns to both the track and the public on site
E.W. Terms
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