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UK Brawl Over Unscientific Watering

Tuesday, 6th September 2005

Meanwhile the "unscientific" nature of UK track watering has been "cited as a continuing, major concern for trainers in the wake of the retirement of Gr1 Oaks heroine Eswarah & injuries suffered by horses who raced at Royal Ascot at York, including Ouija Board" reported racingpost.co.uk. Eswarah's retirement last week with a knee injury was due to "the cumulative effects of racing on unsuitably firm ground" according to her trainer Michael Jarvis, who added: "You can get away with it once or twice but, if it's consistently against you, there's a build up that harms the legs." Jarvis said he shared colleagues' concern on overwatering, noting: "I think the word Good appears more in going descriptions than it should do & that clerks of the course are loathe to call ground Firm, even though it is. They know, of course, instinctively that trainers will back off." Jarvis was among several trainers who criticised the condition of the track at York during the Royal meeting, along with Paul Cole, Barry Hills & Mick Channon who claimed: "Watering was the cause of the insecure surface." UK National Trainers' Federation chief executive Rupert Arnold commented: "Jockey Club statistics show injuries increase with firm ground & trainers will tell you these statistics don't include injuries which show up only when horses return home. If there is a ground concern, it's that watering policy needs to be applied in a more scientific manner to make sure going is safe, not patchy, which is more harmful than naturally firm ground. There is a view that clerks of the course tend to put on too much water than not enough & that there is a tendency to overwater: which makes going inconsistent." Racing Post breeding expert Tony Morris declared: "Watering racecourses should never have started. Watering is one of the reasons why the breed is now weaker & more susceptible to injury. Fifty years ago, trainers didn't care about the ground. In 1956, there were more Hards than Firms in going descriptions during the summer, but there were still huge fields. You wouldn't get that now."

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