Threat of chafer grubs and tumbling track records but Epsom masters conditions
Two track records fell on Investec Derby day but Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper has lauded his team for their work against several ground challenges, including the fast conditions.
The Surrey course attracted solid attendance figures for the two-day meeting, with 36,000 ticket racegoers at Epsom for the Derby, in line with last year's tally, while ladies' day, which featured the Investec-sponsored Oaks and Coronation Cup, sold 2,000 more tickets than last year with an attendance of just over 28,000.
Fine weather will certainly have aided the attendance figures, and while Anthony Van Dyck was the star on the track, winning a record-equalling seventh Derby for Aidan O'Brien, Cooper praised his groundstaff as stars off it for their handling of the quick conditions and the threat of chafer grubs.
Speaking on Saturday evening, Cooper said: "The Derby was an excellent contest with a thrilling finish. It has been a fabulous day.
"Clerks of the course sometimes worry about track records as they think the ground must be very quick. I just think we had an ideal combination to break track records today. The ground was not rattling, but it was dry, good ground which horses could let themselves down on.
"Over these two days, we see the best horses who will run at Epsom all year in high-quality races and so track records will come under threat.
"We had a track record in the Diomed Stakes and also in the last, the Investec Asset Management Handicap, by a second, and we nearly had one in the Dash.
"From a track perspective there has to be huge congratulations to Craig Williamson and Chris Youngs. Whatever the ground is like is down to them and their hard work."
Cooper, who also clerks at nearby Sandown, will bring up a quarter of a century in the role at Epsom in 2020, but revealed there are always new challenges in the build-up to the Derby meeting every year.
He said: "It was my 24th year here and this place gets a real grip on you, as does the Derby. You never stop learning and Friday night was as much as we have ever watered when we put three millimetres down. Every year is different in terms of the ground and the build-up to the race.
"We set chafer grub traps this year. They were an attempt for us to monitor volume and location. We are actually spraying for them this coming week. Today you've had the beetle emerge and lay its eggs, so this is the time to strike. I thought we would be swarming with them today.
"I think we learnt from the treatment we did last year and we are more on top of it. Those traps were there to prevent that."
Surrey Police described the meeting as a success, with just six arrests recorded across the two days – all of which were made on Saturday.
That number represented a reduction in arrests from previous years, after Epsom welcomed 36,000 ticketed racegoers as well as thousands more on the free area known as The Hill.
Fiona Macpherson, chief superintendent of Surrey Police, said: "We had a brilliant time at the Investec Derby Festival this year keeping people safe and secure.
"We had extremely hot weather, especially on Derby day, and our officers worked long, hard shifts in the heat preventing crime and ensuring everyone was safe.
"Thank you to the public for their cooperation and support, they seemed to really enjoy themselves. We look forward to policing the Investec Derby again next year."
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