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Racing abandoned at Worcester on welfare grounds

Racing was abandoned at Worcester yesterday (Wednesday, 1 July) after on-course temperatures reached an unprecedented 98F (36C) degrees in the stable yard and 85F (29C) degrees in the stables.

Third-placed Highland Laddie collapsed after the first race — the Winterfold House Conditional Jockeys’ Novice Handicap Hurdle — and staff poured between 600 and 800 gallons of water over the horse to revive him.

He made a full recovery, said British Horseracing Authority (BHA) spokesman Paul Struthers.

But Mr Struthers refuted claims in the press that racing had been abandoned because the course had run “dry” and would have continued if more water could have been brought on site.

He said: “There was a stewards’ enquiry and because of the extreme heat it was decided to call off racing, it would have been wholly unfair to the horses to have continued.

“It was so hot that the horses were already suffering from heat stress before they started racing.”

And BHA director of equine science and welfare Professor Tim Morris said: “The abandonment of racing on the grounds of horse welfare was undoubtedly the right course of action and was supported by trainers and jockeys.”

BHA senior course inspector Richard Linley is due to visit Worcester tomorrow (Friday) to see if improvements need to be made at the course and guidelines for horse welfare during the current heat wave have been circulated to tracks.

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