Racing: Anxious eye on weather for Boxing Day meet

By Mike Dillon

Those lamenting the absence of a white Christmas, won't enjoy the alternative - a wet Christmas.

Particularly those in horse racing.

How disastrous that might turn out to be on the racing strip of Ellerslie only time will tell, but officials at the Auckland Racing Club are a long way from panic mode.

If there is a slight edge of concern it is that the arrival in New Zealand of the cyclone aftermath seems to have slid forward a day.

The rain that was to be today and tomorrow and possibly part of Monday, now appears to be tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday, possibly threatening for a rain-affected racing strip for Boxing Day's major meeting on Wednesday.

Provided Tuesday is relatively easy on the rain and there is little or none then Ellerslie should be in reasonably good shape, believes RC racing manager Andrew Castles.

"It's near enough to impossible to predict what the track will be like on Wednesday at this early stage," Castles told the Herald yesterday.

"If it rains only Sunday and Monday all that will do will negate the need to water the track.

"Even if we get some rain on Tuesday it won't be a disaster.

"The real problem can come when you get rain on the day.

"This track can absorb and drain so much better than it did three and four years ago.

"On the Friday before the Karaka Million two years ago we copped 99mls of rain and on the Sunday they raced on a dead 4 track."

Castles said the footing at Ellerslie yesterday was perfect.

"It's been set up for rain and all we need is a bit of time without rain close to Boxing Day."

The acceptances for Boxing Day at Ellerslie close at 10am today.

The TAB's chief racing odds setter Thad Taylor said a market for the $200,000 Zabeel Classic would be posted tonight.

"If it's not there latish tonight it will be there first thing Sunday morning.

"The other races at R85 and above will be there by lunchtime Sunday and the other three or four by Monday morning.

"So punters can have a real look at them for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day."

- NZ Herald

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