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Windsor called off for second year in a row over safety fears

Runners negotiating the bend that has once again caused trouble at Windsor
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Concerns over the racing surface at Windsor re-emerged on Monday night when a meeting that was abandoned after three races 12 months ago following horses slipping on the bend suffered an almost identical fate.

For the second year in a row, the Listed Sky Bet Royal Windsor Stakes could not be staged after stewards called off Monday evening's meeting after four races.

Concerns were raised after Comrade Conrad, ridden by Harry Bentley in the second race at 5.50, slipped on the bend when racing around four horses off the rail.

A delegation, including groundstaff, stewards, jockeys Jamie Spencer, Andrea Atzeni and Pat Cosgrave and trainers representative William Muir inspected the bend following the 6.50 race and the meeting was called off around ten minutes after the 7.20 feature had been due to take place.

Speaking to At The Races, stipendiary steward Paul Barton said: "We ran the first race around the bend and there were no issues with it but in the second race, a horse got forced wide and slipped coming out of the bend.

"We spoke to the riders when they came back in, the clerk of the course did some remedial work on the bend and the next two races were not around it.

"In the meantime, some of the riders who had ridden in that race and were due to ride later in the day expressed increased concerns about whether it was safe to race around there.

"Having inspected the bend, we've listened very carefully to the comments made by those riders that had ridden and were due to ride later and there were concerns that if horses went wide off the running line, which is more than two off the rail, that there was an increased risk that they may slip.

"On that basis, clearly the stewards have no option but to call off the remainder of the meeting, as there is no more the clerk of the course can do now to make it any different."

Of particular concern to jockeys was the 14-runner mile handicap, due to be run at 7.50, in which it was likely the field would find itself tracking the bend five or six horses deep with riders looking to be prominent.

As a result of fears over the condition of the bend and what could happen if they found themselves trapped wide at high speeds, some riders felt they would be unable to ride the race as they would have hoped.

Asked whether he felt the problems with the bend had been caused by watering, Barton said: "That's something the BHA's racecourse executive will look into later and that's not something for the stewards look into today.

"We can only look at what the ground is now and listen to jockeys and trainers. Safety is paramount and clearly we don't want anybody taking any risk of slipping up and having any horse or rider injured."

Clearly the stewards have no option but to call off the remainder of the meeting, as there is no more the clerk of the course can do
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