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Jump season opener at Sandown abandoned after just three races amid safety concerns

Today’s card at Sandown has been abandoned after an inspection determined that there were issues with access for vetinary and medical vehicles in some parts of the course. Despite passing an inspection earlier in the day, a further 25mm of rain prompted a further inspection after the third race.

Despite several hurdles and fences being deemed unsafe to jump, racing at the Esher track got off to an exciting start with three horses in contention approaching the final hurdle in the 12.50 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race. With The Cob tiring into third, Top Of The Bill pulled ahead approaching the obstacle and promptly ploughed right through it. This handed the initiative to Paul Nicholl’s horse, Halo Des Orbeaux. Jockey Freddie Gingell took advantage and his charge kept on well to win by a length. To his credit, Top of The Bill kept at it to finish second. Jockey, Jordan Nailor, will no doubt be ruing a missed opportunity on the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained gelding who will surely have better days to look forward to.

London, UK. 6th Nov 2022. Freddie Gingell salutes the crowd in the winners enclosure after winning the 12.50 at Sandown Park Racecourse on Halo Des Obeaux, UK. Credit: Paul Blake/Alamy Live News.

Before the second race, the going was officially changed to Heavy on both the chase and the hurdles courses as the greying skies became ever darker.

The Celebration of Autumn Novices’ Limited Handicap Steeple Chase was won in devastating fashion by another from Paul Nicholl’s yard, six-year old French bred, Solo. Solo made all under Harry Cobden and he had plenty in hand pulling clear after the last to win by five lengths. With a rating of 135, today’s win has been a long time coming. Connections will be looking forward to further improvement as the season progresses.

The heavens opened before the third race which was run in very heavy conditions. As Colonel Harry, ridden by Gavin Sheehan, crossed the finish line to win, the remainder of the large field was stretched out over at least two furlongs behind. Remarkably, Sheehan (riding for Jamie Snowden) came home virtually spotless despite the muddy ground.

London, UK. 6th Nov 2022. Gavin Sheehan salutes the crowd in the winners enclosure after winning the 14.00 at Sandown Park Racecourse emphatically on Colonel Harry, UK. Credit: Paul Blake/Alamy Live News.

With the remainder of the meeting hanging in the balance, Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper, inspected the course alongside riders Brendan Powell, Sam Twiston-Davies, David Bass and Jamie Moore, and trainers Gary Moore, David Pipe, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Robert Walford. Although trainers and jockeys were happy to continue, it was the stewards who made the difficult decision to abandon racing in the interest of safety for participants.

Cooper stated, “It’s hugely disappointing. I thought after a couple of races we’d probably muddle through, but there was always the possibility of further heavy showers in our forecast and they did hit us and I think that tipped us over the edge in several aspects.”

Racegoers will be granted a 50 per cent refund on tickets and compensation for participants who had runners in the abandoned races will be announced in due course.

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