Towcester Racecourse looks at plastic option

Towcester race goers who stalled the dash to the car park after last Wednesday's inaugural 2008-09 season card were rewarded with a glimpse of the future.

For the Northants track staged two unofficial 'races' as part of a trial to display the merits of the new plastic EasyFix hurdles which are already in use at three courses in Ireland, namely Sligo, Limerick and Roscommon.

Towcester clerk of the course Robert Bellamy was keen to provide southern trainers with a trial similar to one provided by Sam Morshead at Perth a fortnight earlier, and found plenty of willing response.

He said: "Trainers such as Philip Hobbs, Kim Bailey, Jonjo O'Neill and Alan King were already using the EasyFix hurdles… in fact I believe Alan arranged to buy the hurdles we used after last week."

He added: "We invited local trainers who use Towcester to send horses here for the trial… Paul Webber, Caroline Bailey and Neil Mulholland all sent four, while Ben Case, Peter Pritchard and Robin Dickin were others to take part and we had jockeys such as Andrew Thornton, Robert Thornton, Dominic Elsworth, Will Kennedy and Adam Pogson."

Towcester 'specialist' horses involved included the likes of Earcomesthedream and Arctic Spirit.

The plastic hurdles have a bright orange strip near the top of the flight and can be interlocked in four feet sections. EasyFix's proud boast is that they will reduce horse and jockey injury as they do fall down or flick back up and they also require less labour, removing the need to constantly repair the existing birch hurdles.

County trainer Caroline Bailey said: "I am interested in buying a set of hurdles to school horses at home and the trial went well. I think we have seen the way ahead.

"Andrew Thornton rode Arnold Layne while we also sent Killard Point, Oscar Owen and Prince de Marais along and the jockeys were very pleased.

"There were 10 horses in one race, eight in another, and I should think theywent at three-quarter speed."

Bellamy added: "One of the advantages is that the hurdles can easily be moved by two groundstaff.

"They are not any bigger than existing hurdles and are more of a triangular shape rather than like a ramp.

"As well as inspectors of courses such as Peter Hobbs and Nicky Carlisle, I was joined by Tony Goodhugh from Human Resopurces at the BHA while Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty stopped on after racing to watch the trials."

Towcester is now preparing for its second fixture of 2008-09, which takes place a week on Sunday, October 26, when the first race is due off at 1.25pm.