Country trainers with horses racing at Warwick Farm have varied their travel schedules to combat expected heatwave conditions before, during and after Saturday’s metropolitan meeting.
With a temperature forecast for 38 degrees in Sydney’s western suburbs, the safety of jockeys and horses has become the major focus for racing officials.
“Our first responsibility is to the participants, the horse and the jockey,” Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy said.
“We can always race another day. There is always something to bet on somewhere else.
“We won’t risk life or limb to get the meetings through but if we can race safely then that’s what will happen.”
Two trainers with the longest road trips have adopted different approaches with their Warwick Farm runners.
Chris Heywood, who trains at Young, a 4-1/2-hour drive south-west of Sydney, scratched Report from an easier race at Canterbury on Friday night to take his chances at Warwick Farm.
“To race her at Canterbury I would have had to travel her through the middle of the day and then hit the Sydney peak hour,” Heywood said.
“At least on Saturday I can leave early in the morning when it’s not so hot and have her on course nice and early.”
Wayne Wilkes has already arrived in Sydney with ATC Cup runner King Utah.
But the Port Macquarie-based trainer still has his concerns about the short float trip from where the in-form stayer is stabled at Rosehill to Warwick Farm.
“Even though it’s only 20 minutes I still want to get him there well before he is supposed to … get him settled, cooled and relaxed,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes said there would be just as much importance placed on his return trip.
“It will be a matter of leaving at the right time while keeping the horse hydrated,” he said.
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will take four runners to Warwick Farm but it’s their condition when they get home which also occupies his welfare priorities.
“I think it’s more post-race that would be a concern,” he said. “You just have to keep them well hydrated before they go.”
In early markets, the best of Lees’ chances is Nuptse, a former Queensland mare who shares favouritism in the Tab.com.au.au Handicap.
Premier trainer Chris Waller is expected to add to his string of wins with imports in Sydney staying races with Moriarty a clear-cut favourite to win the Listed ATC Cup.