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Extreme heat likely to slash field sizes even more with threat of meetings being abandoned in second summer heatwave

, Extreme heat likely to slash field sizes even more with threat of meetings being abandoned in second summer heatwave

BRITAIN is set to sizzle in red-hot temperatures later this week, and the extreme heat is likely to have a big impact on race meetings.

It is the second summer heatwave to hit the country in a little over a month, and during the first blast of hot air five meetings had to be abandoned.

Temperatures are expected to soar across Britain this week

The mercury topped 40 degrees in several locations across England, with the fixtures at Southwell, Windsor, Beverley, Chelmsford and Wolverhampton cancelled on health and safety grounds.

Temperatures aren’t expected to reach quite those heights over the next few days, though it could peak around 34 or 35 degrees.

At present, the BHA has no plans to abandon any fixtures, but they will keep a close eye on weather forecasts throughout the week.

The extreme heat means racecourse clerks are having to water intensively to ensure ground doesn’t get quicker than Good to Firm.

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And the fast ground is having a negative impact on field sizes.

The historically dry summer has meant the going has been on the firm side in most parts of the country for weeks on end.

Some horses enjoy fast ground, but there are plenty of others who prefer a bit of dig underfoot.

And there are many trainers who don’t like running their horses repeatedly on a quick surface, as it increases the likelihood of a runner becoming jarred up or picking up a minor injury.

The first example of the weather having a knock-on effect to field sizes is at Salisbury’s big three-day August Festival.

The feature race is the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes on Thursday – worth a cool £70,000 – has attracted just four runners.

And across Wednesday and Thursday’s meetings, there are just 89 runners in total – an average of just over six a race.

Salisbury clerk of the course Jeremy Martin said he has never known such extreme weather in his 20 years at the track.

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He said: “The field sizes are a bit disappointing, but it’s not much of a surprise given the lack of rain we have had and field sizes have struggled a little all season.

“It’s been particularly bad in the south, I have never known a dry spell like the one we have had this summer. We haven’t had any meaningful rain since the start of June.”

Newbury are also worried about potentially small fields for their big Saturday card, which features the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes.

Officials will monitor the situation closely over the coming days and many tracks already have plans in place to keep horses as cool as possible.

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