UK heatwave monitored by horse racing chiefs with temperatures expected to reach 35C

Racing chiefs are monitoring forecasts as temperatures soar during the UK heatwave.

Fixtures scheduled for the start of next week will be assessed – and may be abandoned if it is too hot.

The Met Office has extended its danger-to-life weather warning for England and Wales to Tuesday. Highs of 36C are predicted on the day, when Southwell, Chelmsford, Wolverhampton and Musselburgh racecourses are due to hold race meetings.

All bar the latter track lie in the region covered by the national meteorological service’s amber alert. Many areas are also braced for extreme temperatures on Monday, with a peak 35C expected in the run up to Windsor’s evening programme.

Sally Taylor, the British Horseracing Authority’s head of equine health and operations, told the Racing Post : “The most extreme forecasts show high, unprecedented temperatures. We’re monitoring it and will continue to do so. Racing has been abandoned in the past when temperatures were unmanageable.”

Venues have increased the variety of cooling measures for horses, with iced water available in key areas for before and after they have competed.

At Royal Ascot last month, large high-tech fans were in position for grooms to lead their runners around in front of them.

In July 2019, Southwell abandoned a jumps fixture midway through when temperatures hit 36C. But at Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, which hosts its valuable Summer Plate card over obstacles on Saturday, is not due to be hotter than the mid-twenties.

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James Given, the BHA’s director of equine health and welfare, previously said cooling horses as soon as possible is the most important procedure in the heat.

“While horses sweat freely they’ve got a huge amount of body mass and when they’re galloping and racing they’re generating heat doing that,” he said. “So they need to disperse that through the skin, we help cool that as quickly as we can with cold water.”

Horses regularly compete in high temperatures in places such as the Middle East, America and Australia. Given added that like humans, they key to managing the heat is acclimatisation.

A horse stands in front of a large fan at Royal Ascot 2022

A horse stands in front of a large fan at Royal Ascot 2022

Charlie Moore, Head of Group Racing Operations for Arena Racing Company, pinpointed some of extra procedures at their circuits.

“As with all racecourses, we take higher temperatures extremely seriously and make sure to have resources in place on course ahead of periods such as the one forecast for the coming weekend,” he said.

“We are also remain in regular dialogue with the BHA and their veterinary officers as well as our own highly skilled equine vets, to make sure that all of the various hot weather requirements are met and that we have adequate water for cooling both horses and people who work throughout all areas of the racecourse.

“Around equine areas such as the stables, paddock and track, we will have fans, water and ice, along with extra people on hand to administer them, as required. Extra water is available for members of our own racecourse team, as well as the BHA team, jockeys, racing staff and anyone else who might require it.”

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