Fixture list takes blame as Hexham’s Tuesday card attracts just 32 runners.
Low field sizes at Hexham on Tuesday have been blamed in large part on a packed schedule in Scotland and the north of England.
The Northumberland track got only 32 statements for its six-race card, which is set to be run on weighty ground, with a match in the initial fledgling obstacle and just a single race with in excess of six sprinters.
On the reasons for the low turnout, clerk of the course James Armstrong said: “A combination of quite a busy fixture schedule up here and some fairly testing going would probably be the main factors.
“There’s been a lot of jump racing up north over the last ten days and given there are more fixtures this week, we’re all pooling from a fairly similar population of horse.”
Before the competitive Racing Post Go North Weekend fixtures at Musselburgh on Friday, Kelso on Saturday, and Carlisle on Sunday, Sedgefield only attracted 31 runners for seven races last Thursday.
In the north-east, there are three jumps events in the same day. On Wednesday, Newcastle, 48 declarations were made for seven races, sandwiching Hexham on Tuesday and Hexham on Thursday.
The second meeting at Hexham was moved from Newcastle to support turf management. It had been moved from Sedgefield, which had track issues this season, to Hexham.
Armstrong believes that the course has been doing well overall in spite of the trend of smaller fields at Hexham’s most recent meeting on March 16.
“We’d love to have had more runners, obviously, but we’ve got heavy ground after 18mm of rain since Wednesday and unless you want it testing, it’s not going to be for you,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see how many declare for our meeting on Thursday, but we had 73 declare from 130-odd entries for our last meeting and Hexham’s field sizes have been holding up well generally.”
Grove Road, a former Cheltenham Festival participant, is expected to compete in Hexham’s meeting. The unbeaten novice hurdler will compete against Well Dick for the 2m712f novice hurdle (2.10).
“It’s a shame he’s not taking on a few others and hopefully they’ll both stand their ground,” added Armstrong.
Despite the fact that the winter action was marred by uncompetitive racing, efforts to increase field sizes appear to be paying off, as increases compared to the previous year were reported in January and February.
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