Epsom course clerk Andrew Cooper has started watering the track for this week’s Cazoo Derby festival.
Sunday the course was described as good all the way, but a hot afternoon and the diminishing likelihood of rain later in the week prompted Cooper to step in and start the irrigation.
The pitch is described as good, good to firm in places for the two-day meeting which starts on Friday and hosts the Derby itself on Saturday – and only slightly faster areas will be targeted during the initial watering.
“At nine o’clock yesterday morning I would have said the ground was good,” Cooper said.
“Yesterday was a dry, sunny day here. The temperatures reached around 20 degrees – and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon.
“We dried up a bit more – and from nine this morning, if we were running here today, I’d say it’s good, good to firm in places.
“You just have to look at the reports going across the country and see that there are a lot of flat courses heading into this territory, so it’s not at all unexpected, given the weather last week.”
Cooper’s team will apply the first five millimeters of water to the drier parts of the track, with the forecast in the later stages of the week being the deciding factor in whether additional watering will be needed.
“We’re focusing today on those pieces of track that we would qualify as good to firm, or the fast side of the good, if we were racing here today,” he said.
“As far as the Derby route goes, it’s really only the first half mile, from the start of the Derby to the start of the mile which runs a little faster than the last mile.
“We’re going to skip the last mile, certainly for today, and we’ve decided to put 5mm on that first half mile.
“In our opinion, the time has come for us to step in and just start the irrigation.
“In view of the forecasts, more and more – this very morning – the risk of showers at the end of the week is decreasing.
“There is still some degree of uncertainty. But here and now the risk of downpours is decreasing – which is one of the considerations we need to crack and water.”