Newmarket moves to avoid split repeat

Newmarket has announced changes to the course layout for the Qipco Guineas Festival, with the stalls for the first two Classics of the season set to be on the stands rail rather than the centre of the track.

The fixture, which takes place on May 2 and 3, will also see the introduction of a false rail three metres off the permanent stands side rail which will cut in at the three-furlong pole.

This narrowing of the course means the maximum field size will be lowered to 25 in comparison to 30 last year, although there has not been a race with over 25 declared runners in the last five years at the meeting.

The decision to switch the stalls comes after last year’s 2000 Guineas in which the field split into two groups, with Night Of Thunder eventually emerging the winner in what was regarded by some as a messy renewal.

Michael Prosser, head of racing for the Jockey Club Racecourses East Region, said: “Following consultation with certain horsemen, it was agreed that the stalls would be positioned in the centre of the course for the 2004 Classics which has remained the same ever since.

“This has been a successful move and the best horse in the race has invariably won. However, tactics can lead to the field splitting which was the case in the 2014 Qipco 2000 Guineas, and this is unsatisfactory.

“By positioning the stalls against the stand side rail and introducing a false rail at the three furlong pole, we are encouraging the field to stay together with the false rail helping to eliminate any hard luck stories.”

Roger Varian’s Kingston Hill finished eighth in the Guineas last year before going on to St Leger glory, and the Newmarket trainer welcomed the move.

He said: “I think it’s a good thing that Michael Prosser and his team are thinking of ways that the showcase event gets run as fairly as possible as nobody likes seeing the race split.”


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