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‘Clearly a shame’ – first day of Guineas meeting attracts just 42 runners | Horse Racing News

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Edward Whitaker (@racingpost.com/photos)

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Newmarket: there are more small fields at the course on Friday

Edward Whitaker (@racingpost.com/photos)

By Sam Inkersole

The first day of the Qipco Guineas festival at Newmarket on Friday has failed to buck the trend of poor field sizes that racing has been battling over recent months on both the Flat and over jumps.

The Suffolk course has permanently expanded the meeting to three days for the first time this year. The fixture had first been run over three days upon the return of racing after the pandemic-enforced lockdown in 2020, but it had been run over two days again in 2021.

Newmarket hosts a seven-race card on Friday followed by eight races on Saturday and a further seven on Sunday, with the weekend keeping its traditional 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas slots.


Newmarket Friday card and betting


However, a maximum of just 42 horses have been declared for Friday’s card with the Newmarket Stakes, worth £29,489 to the winner, attracting only four runners.

The King Charles II Stakes has a field of five runners, the Betfair Daily Rewards Handicap has only two more than that, while six run in the Jockey Club Stakes, seven in the Fillies’ Stakes and five in the final handicap of the day.

The race that has attracted the biggest field, albeit with only eight runners, is the opening fillies’ maiden.

Edward Whitaker (@racingpost.com/photos)

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Hoo Ya Mal: ​​one of just four runners in the Newmarket Stakes on Friday
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Hoo Ya Mal: ​​one of just four runners in the Newmarket Stakes on Friday

Edward Whitaker (@racingpost.com/photos)

There is perhaps a partial excuse as to why the field sizes are small on the first day of the meeting, as 2,000 Guineas day on Saturday is part of the World Pool and some races have been shifted around to produce more attractive betting across the weekend.

The Jockey Club Stakes and Newmarket Stakes have been moved from Saturday to Friday, while the Saturday card has been boosted by the addition of the Listed Kilvington Stakes, which has been switched from Nottingham to Newmarket and has attracted 16 entries.

The return of Flat racing at Doncaster last month also suffered from poor field sizes, as the course persisted with running the Spring Mile despite not meeting the criterion of ten runners in the race’s conditions.

Over jumps, the Cheltenham Festival suffered from a slump in field sizes in March With the meeting attracting its lowest average fields bar last year’s behind-closed-doors event since Racing Post records began in 1988.

Newmarket clerk of the course and regional regional head of racing Michael Prosser has admitted it is a “shame” there are not more runners on Friday’s card, but offered reasons as to why this could be the case.

“With over £300,000 of prize-money on offer on Friday, clearly it’s a shame that there are no more runners, but there are a number of factors at play,” Prosser said.

Edward Whitaker (@racingpost.com/photos)

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Michael Prosser:

Michael Prosser: “There are a number of factors at play”

Edward Whitaker (@racingpost.com/photos)

“There are multiple races which fulfil a vital role within the programme, but because they are specifically designed for a small section of the horse population they have never attracted a large field.

“There are also new races on the card, and while we have tailored these to meet gaps within the existing programme, our experience is that it can often take a few years for new contests to bed in.”

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