East Anglian point-to-point enthusiasts have been dealt a bitter blow with news that all meetings at Horseheath Racecourse, Cambridgeshire, have had to be cancelled for 2014.
The prolonged spell of wet weather has meant planned remedial groundworks have been unable to be completed.
After liaising with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and carrying out a trial on 7 January, the British Horseracing’s midlands area inspector of courses, Nick Carlisle, deemed the surface unsafe to race on.
“While the BHA course inspectors had felt right up to December that, given the right weather conditions, racing in 2014 would be possible, the January site inspection confirmed otherwise,” he said.
“In the interests of ensuring that the very best standards are maintained at Horseheath, it was agreed to let the course rest until its 2015 fixtures.
Clerk of the course, John Sharp, who partnered almost 200 winners and rode at the very first Horseheath meeting, said he had not been consulted about the groundworks, which began last June.
“Their effect on the racing surface has been to leave some bare slits in the turf, causing uneven and false ground which at racing pace would be dangerous. These conditions were exacerbated by recent heavy rain [3 inches in the previous 8 days],” he explained, adding: “Yesterday was 1 of the most disappointing days of my racing life.”
Consultations are currently taking place and the organising committees of the 3 meetings involved — the Cambridgeshire with Enfield Chace (2 February), the Thurlow (1 March) and the Puckeridge (29 March) — are attempting to ascertain the viability of staging 1 or more of their meetings at a different racecourse.