Frost Could be Left Out in the Cold

Weather conditions have a great impact on horse racing and racing events around the world. Rain, wind or even extreme heat, can bring a racing event to its knees and be the cause of many frustrated spectators and horse owners when an event is cancelled. Each country battles with their own unique weather conditions, and in the United Kingdom, one of their weather enemies are frost. Fortunately, ongoing research seems to be on the brink of finding a solution to dealing with frost, and bringing relief to many racecourses, horsemen and loyal fans.

Hundreds of horse racing events are cancelled due to weather, of which frost is the culprit in twenty-five percent of abandoned races. When looking at last year, thirty-two racing meetings were struck with frost in November. Everyone is affected by a cancelled race, from spectators to jockeys, and owners to bookmakers are thrown off schedule, not to mention the racecourse themselves that suffer huge losses. In 2006, the RCA announced that the Cranfield University Centre for Sports Surface Technology had been selected to begin research on covers that could protect racecourses against frost. The Horse Betting Levy Board and showed their support by providing funding for the research, which is now in its third year and has progressed to the point of being ready for testing.

Racecourses have also received the news of anti-frost cover research enthusiastically, with Cheltenham, Newbury, Ascot and Haydock Park, opening their grounds to field testing. During the coming months, researchers will be testing various aspects of the covers. Their durability to the elements will be tested as well as looking into its practicality, as the covers would have to blanket an entire racecourse in future and must be able to be removed, without much inconvenience. Researchers also have to bear in mind that the covers could get heavy during the night, while the covers protect the racecourse from frost and other weather.

If the Cranfield University Centre for Sports Surface Technology research proves successful, and the covers pass the tests of durability, effectiveness and practicality, the anti-frost covers could save the horse racing industry thousands, and allow racing schedules to continue without the disruption of frost covered racecourses.

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