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Heatwave Causes Racing at Southwell to be Cancelled on Thursday

Horse Racing in the Blaring SunToo Darn Hot is an outstanding two-year-old thoroughbred with an outstanding racing career to look forward to, and his name is a decent adjective to describe the current state of the weather in the UK.

Thursday is the hottest July day in history, according to the Met Office, with thermometers reaching an armpit-moistening 36.9°C in Heathrow, West London.

That usurps the previous record, and helps to explain why this week England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales has resembled a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by people who simply have been too hot to sleep at night.

The outrageous temperatures have caused something of a kerfuffle for the British racing calendar, with earlier start times and cancellations experienced this week.

A meeting at Southwell was abandoned on Thursday when temperatures reached 35°C, with organisers deciding that the last two races of the meeting – both of which were scheduled to be run over longer distances – would be abandoned.

That meeting had already seen its start time brought forward by more than two hours to help keep horses out of the hottest temperatures, but Southwell officials had to admit defeat as the mercury rose by a degree with each race.

Southwell Racecourse Empty Course
Photo © Tom Courtney (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Staff had been brought in from Worcester to help hand out ice packs, water and man marquees designed specifically to provide horses and their connections with some much-needed shade.

All of which has everyone concerned with the King George Weekend at Ascot on tenterhooks as to whether the action will go ahead as planned.

Will the King George Weekend Be Cancelled?

The good news is that no, it is unlikely that the King George weekend will be cancelled, and the meeting should go ahead as planned.

The mercury hit a migraine-inducing 35°C in Ascot on Thursday, but the good news is that the heatwave is likely to move away in time for the weekend.

Indeed, there are showers in the forecast on Friday, with temperatures set to cool to a more manageable 24°C.

And it looks unlikely that rain will ruin the parade on the meeting’s flagship day on Saturday, where it is expected to be cloudy and a relatively cool 22°C.

Ascot Weather Forecast King George Weekend
Weather Forecase, via Met Office

That will ensure perfect conditions for the much anticipated showdown between Enable, Crystal Ocean and Anthony van Dyck in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Enable, the brilliant John Gosden mare seeking a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory later in the year, has rarely been troubled throughout her extraordinary five-year-old career, and she will be looking to complete a second King George victory.

But stern competition comes in the form of Crystal Ocean, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes champion, and Anthony van Dyck, who produced such a memorable performance to win the Epsom Derby earlier in the season.

Throw into the mix the Hardwicke Stakes winner Defoe, and three-time Group 1 victor Waldgeist, and the stage is set for a tremendous renewal in, thankfully, far more agreeable conditions than today!