Farmer and firefighters splash out to keep race meeting on track

A welcome cooloing bucket of water after STAGS LEAP and Henry Brooke wins from stablemate Talk of Saafend (Miss Ema Sayer) to give Trainer Dianne Sayer a 1-2 in the Border Facilities Hurdle for owner Dennis Coopola  at Kelso 27thMay12'Photograph by John Grossick
A welcome cooloing bucket of water after STAGS LEAP and Henry Brooke wins from stablemate Talk of Saafend (Miss Ema Sayer) to give Trainer Dianne Sayer a 1-2 in the Border Facilities Hurdle for owner Dennis Coopola at Kelso 27thMay12'Photograph by John Grossick

Local firefighters and a Kelso farmer joined forces to save Sunday’s meeting at Kelso Racecourse, organising emergency water supplies after a mystery drop in pressure on the hottest day of the year almost forced cancellation of the event.

It was only two weeks ago that the racecourse was waterlogged, but last week’s warm summer weather saw staff having to water the course ahead of Sunday’s meeting.

The glorious day of blue skies and sunshine brought the crowds out in force and the venue found itself packed, with its restaurants and other dining facilities doing brisk business.

In the end, however, course officials had to call on assistance from the local fire brigade to pump water to the stableblock, while Spylaw farmer Keith Redpath brought in extra water tanks after problems arose with water pressure.

Course managing director Richard Landale told us: “We were extremely grateful to Keith Redpath of Spylaw and the Kelso fire brigade for their help with getting much-needed water on site. Without them, we may have been unable to continue through the card.

“The team of vets did a sterling job, and many of the trainers helped out too, which was much appreciated. It’s not often we have to cope with such heat and we are taking steps to ensure such problems won’t happen again,” he added.

Speaking to TheSouthern on Tuesday, Mr Landale said the course had never experienced a race meeting with such high temperatures. “It was tremendously hot. We had two pony races which saw a huge amount of water being used.

“Then in the first race there was a horse thought to be suffering from heat exhaustion – although it turned out later not to be – and the vets were pouring large amounts of water over it to keep it cool. Our facilities were packed with a lot of people drinking water. We still don’t know why the pressure dropped, but I’m expecting a plumber and hopefully that will shed some light on what happened.”

Mr Landale said racing was only delayed by about 10 or 15 minutes in order to let the extra supplies of water to be brought in.

“The vets had said not to restart until sufficient water was available. So, the fire brigade came to pump extra water to the stable block, while Keith Redpath helped with water for the paddock.

“We have any amount of water in our lagoon, but it’s getting it to where you need it. This was something we’d not had to plan for before. We do have a bowser for watering the road to keep dust down, but that’s a slurry-style bowser where water comes out under pressure and is not suitable for filling buckets.

“All our facilities, like the restaurants, were heaving and fully booked, and so were asked not to wash up until after the end of racing in an effort to save water.”

And Mr Landale praised all those who had rallied round to save the day’s race card from being cancelled. “We’d never had conditions like these. Keith Redpath saved our bacon and some of the trainers were also brilliant.

“The vets too were magnificent – very sensible. Some trainers did not want racing to continue, but the vets said if everyone waited 10 minutes until everything filled up with water, it would be fine, and it was.

“We’d longed for a day like that with such glorious weather. Two weeks ago we were waterlogged and then we were watering the course all last week, but it just dried out so quickly.

“But Sunday saw incredible team spirit. It really was heart-warming seeing the way everyone pulled together to tackle the problem.”

Races report – page 25