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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Thunderstorms and a mini-heatwave forecast for Derby week

Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper: difficult forecast to read
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Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper described the going at Epsom currently as "basically good ground" but said the forecast between now and the end of next week was difficult to read.

Cooper, who John Gosden described as "the best clerk of the course in the country" talked of the difficult spring experienced by all racecourses this year, and the recent dry spell, but said he was comfortable with where the ground is now.

He said: "We've only had two meaningful spells of rain this month, with 8mm on May 2 and the same on May 8, since when it's been very dry. We've been watering since the middle of the week before last and I think we have the ground in a place where we are comfortable with it.

"Over the next ten days we will try to steer it as we normally do so that we are racing on good, fast, safe ground for the Derby. We don't think we should be running the Derby on ground quicker than good to firm, and if it's going to be a hot dry weekend then we will have to go into the Friday on ground slightly easier than that."

He added: "There's lots of moisture in the soil profile and I think we are in control of the situation, but it's a difficult forecast going forward, with a chance of showers, a chance of thunderstorms, but also a chance of very hot weather on bank holiday Monday and then a possible breakdown after that. We might see nothing, but we might see 20mm in 20 minutes – it's that sort of forecast."

Several of the meeting's supporting races have had their values increased, and there is a significant change to the conditions of one of them.

Cooper said: "No race over the two days will be worth less than £50,000 and the Woodcote Stakes, with EBF support, is up from £40,000 to £60,000. There is also a race planning change, and the last race on Oaks day, which was previously three-year-olds only seven-furlong handicap, is now open to older horses.

"That's in a bid to try to protect the Listed Surrey Stakes, which is a seven-furlong race for three-year-olds. Now it's up to £50,000 I didn't think it was sensible to have a fifty grand handicap up to 100 [for three-year-olds only] and also fifty grand Listed race."

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It's a difficult forecast going forward. We might see nothing, but we might see 20mm in 20 minutes - it's that sort of forecast

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