The first casualty of the unusually dry autumn is Taunton racecourse’s opening meeting next Thursday (10 November).

The racecourse decided to cancel the meeting on 2 November, after agreeing with the BHA at the pre-season inspection that the ground was not safe for horses to run on.

“We’ve lost sponsorship, big crowds and entries. It’s disappointing,” said Robert Young, the racecourse’s chief executive.

The ground on the Somerset racecourse is currently firm and hard in places after the continued dry spell.

In July and August only 38.5mm of rain fell on the course, against an average of 170mm. Since 1 September it has only had 88.5mm of rain against an average of 100mm.

This means the racecourse is down 120mm of rain against the norm over the period.

To improve the ground, the course is being spiked to a depth of 4inches and the reservoir emptied.

An agent that maximises the effect of the water is being applied to the course before watering takes place, in the week starting 14 November. This will put two inches of water in the clay ground.
 
The racecourse hopes these measures will produce “good firm ground” by the next meeting on 24 November.

The opening meeting has only been cancelled once in the last 10 years, following a similar late summer. Then racing was unable to start until early December.

The unusual dry weather may have cancelled racing, but it has not disrupted the eventing calendar.

This weekend (4-5 November) Aston-le-Walls is holding a new British Eventing (BE) competition, the first to be held after the clocks change.

Entries secretary Tissie Reason said there are nearly 200 entries on each day of the BE event, Friday and Saturday, and 250 for the unaffiliated competition on Sunday.

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“The grass has grown tremendously this autumn and there’s good ground cover on the cross-country course,” she told H&H.
 
“Conditions are better now than they were in March.”