Chris Gordon, the trainer, expressed his displeasure with the official ground description after his horse’s withdrawal caused a walkover in the first race.
Aucunrisque was scheduled to run in the £17,400 novice chase, but Gordon withdrew the six-year-old in the paddock after objecting to the ‘good’ rating.
Pentland Hills, the Triumph Hurdle champion from 2019, was allowed to lead Nico de Boinville to the finish line and win in what was supposed to be his first start over fences.
“I can’t tell you how quick it was, it scared the hell out of me,” said Gordon. “When the horse came into the paddock Tom [Cannon], who had run around the track earlier, just said it was very, very quick down the back and we were doing the wrong thing. The owner straight away said we should pull him out.
“It’s bloody difficult when you’ve got owners who have come up for the day and the clerk [Roderick Duncan] says it’s good ground. I hate it, the last thing we want to do is break horses. If the clerk had called it good to firm, like they should, we would never have made the journey, it would have been a walkover and would have been done and dusted.
“It’s really disappointing and I’m sorry for people, but if it’s like a road we’ll break our horse. It’s a long season and at the end of the day we have to do these things. These horses break in seconds and their welfare is the most important thing.”
The six-race card only attracted 26 runners, and the lack of rain affected declarations and entries.
“I’m not blaming them for not running, Chris said he wouldn’t if it was quick, but it’s not Huntingdon’s fault. This weather is making it quick everywhere.”
Although sand was added to the track after the fourth race, which was a juvenile hurdle won by the Fergal O’Brien-trained Fils De Roi, the ground’s description of good persisted throughout the entire card.