Leopardstown stops watering with rain forecast before the Dublin Racing Festival
Leopardstown has ceased watering on the chase track due to forecast rain over the weekend and during the early stages of next week, the track’s operations manager David Attwood revealed on Thursday.
The announcement came after the track n carried out a full water of its chase course between Monday and Wednesday, but the taps have been turned off for the time being at least.
Attwood explained: “We started watering the chase track on Monday and that was completed on Wednesday evening. In line with the weather forecast, we've ceased watering for the time being.”
He added: “The whole chase track has had a water and is now yielding to soft, soft in places. We're really happy with how that watering has gone and, given there's rain coming perhaps over the weekend or in the early part of next week, we're just holding fire to see how much arrives.
"Then we can evaluate and see how much water is going to be required before we start watering again.”
Leopardstown has come under pressure from Willie Mullins, Noel Meade, Eddie O’Leary and Philip Reynolds to water the chase course before the two-day Dublin Racing Festival, which begins on February 1.
The reason for the criticism stems as far back as last year’s festival, when the Irish Gold Cup was reduced to just four runners due to the ground, while the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Chase over the Christmas also suffered, with only three runners going to post because of the ground.
Asked if Leopardstown had taken on board the criticisms from key industry practitioners, Attwood responded: “There's been a few comments in various publications and everybody is entitled to their opinion. This is a very new experience for us, watering during the jumps season, so we've had to reassess how we do things.”
He added: “We want everyone to be happy, or as many people as possible to be happy, and we've listened to what everyone has been saying and made a plan accordingly.”
Explaining the track’s position on the matter, Attwood went on to explain that watering wasn’t necessarily the right thing to do and, in some instances, could do more harm than good to the soil.
He said: “It can be damaging to the ground and we still have another meeting coming up, where we will need to use the same chase track that we use for the Dublin Racing Festival. There's no real issue with the hurdles track as we move the hurdles track all the time.”
He added: “We have to consider the growth and the health of the grass itself. The best way to do that is to have a strong-rooted grass to maintain the integrity of the soil.
"It's not just the kindness in the ground, it's also about the management of the turf itself. If you've good quality turf, and healthy turf, then it helps to bring it together and act as a cushion as well.”
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