'There was a lake in the middle of the course' - Doncaster welcomes return

After losing four successive meetings to waterlogging, Doncaster is finally set to race again on Friday, much to the relief of clerk of the course Roderick Duncan.

Although the region has suffered more widespread flooding, Duncan reports the track is now in good order and forecasts the two-day meeting, the track's first over jumps this winter, could begin on ground no worse than soft, good to soft in places.

Duncan said: "We had eight inches of rain in six weeks and it usually seemed to fall as racedays were approaching. One of our staff has been here 38 years and he had never seen anything like it.

"There was a lot of standing water on the course, and there was a massive lake in the middle of the golf course in the centre of the track. It closed for two or three weeks and only reopened last week."

The last racing staged at the track was on the Friday of the two-day Vertem Futurity Stakes meeting, when racing took place on heavy ground. Relentless rain that day forced the abandonment of the second day, and the Vertem Futurity was run on Tapeta at Newcastle the following week.

Since then the course has lost the traditional turf season finale, November Handicap day, as well as a two-day jumps fixture scheduled for the last weekend of November.

Duncan said: "It was very frustrating, and it'll have hit a lot of casual staff hard, but there was not a lot we could do. We are putting together plans to see what we might do to avoid a repeat, but I think it'll always be difficult to survive the volumes of rain we've seen recently."

The highlight of this weekend's two-day meeting is Saturday's Grade 2 bet365 December Novices' Chase, and Duncan is delighted to see the classy pair Sam Spinner and Windsor Avenue are intended runners.

He said: "It's shaping up to be a good meeting and I'm particularly looking forward to the novice chase on Saturday, which looks like being a really nice race."

He added: "I changed the going on Wednesday morning to soft, good to soft in places, and by the end of a dry day we were heading back towards good to soft.

"There's rain forecast for late Thursday and into Friday morning, but if the forecast eight or nine millimetres is accurate we'll cope with it well. I can't see racing starting on anything worse than soft, good to soft in places, and maybe the other way around."