Aintree is set to experience a wet start to the week as the flagship Randox Grand National meeting looms.

The three-day fixture starts on Thursday and peaks on Saturday with the National itself.

The forecast before the opening day includes plenty of rain, with the majority looking set to fall before the meeting starts.

The ground was varying between soft and heavy across the two courses at Aintree on Sunday, following an incredibly wet winter and early spring. There is clearly more to come, although it may alleviate when the gates open on Thursday for an afternoon that kicks off with four successive Grade One races.

“We’re soft, heavy in places on the Grand National course and soft on the Mildmay,” said Sulekha Varma, clerk of the course at Aintree.

“We are sunny and breezy at the moment, but we are expecting another band of rain to move in over the next few days, probably quite heavy rain at times.

“Then Thursday, Friday and Saturday are looking overcast, perhaps some showers but nothing too significant.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a shower or two through racing, but the bulk of the rain seems to be at the start of the week.”

Paddy Twomey is in an enviable position as he considers where to send Guineas hopefuls One Look and Purple Lily.

Both fillies ran twice as two-year-olds and both showed a great deal of promise when winning their respective starts in good style.

One Look, a Gleneagles bay out of a Holy Roman Emperor mare called Holy Salt, made her debut in the Goffs Million at the Curragh last September having been purchased as a yearling via the auction house for €65,000.

There she faced a field of expensive purchases but made light work of them all when powering to a six-length success over seven furlongs and pocketing just shy of 10 times her purchase price as the first place purse was €610,000.

Earmarked as a top prospect for the 2024, One Look started her campaign in a Cork auction race and maintained her reputation with an easy three-length victory there.

“That was a good starting point for her, she won the Goffs Million last year and I was keen to get another run into her,” Twomey said.

“She went there ready to run and acquitted herself well in the circumstances, on the heavy ground, she’ll go for one of the Guineas in England or Ireland.

“Over the next few days we’ll make a decision on who goes where when we’ve run most of them.”

Purple Lily, who is by Calyx, also started her career on a good note when winning a Galway maiden last August and proved she had progressed into her three-year-old season when lining up in the TRM Equine Nutrition Race at Naas in March.

There she prevailed by three lengths from the Group One-placed Portland, and like her stablemate she now holds entries for the 1000 Guineas contests at both Newmarket and the Curragh.

“Purple Lily came out of her win in Naas in great form, I’m very happy with her,” Twomey said.

“She’s trained very well since, we’re looking forward to the year ahead and we’ll decide soon which of the Guineas she’ll go for – hopefully it’ll be either the English or the Irish Guineas.

“We’re lucky to have some nice horses in and we’re just hoping they can have a good year.”

Aidan Coleman has announced his retirement from the saddle having failed to recover from a knee injury.

The 35-year-old suffered a fall at Worcester in June and has been battling to return ever since, undergoing several surgeries on his knee and a shattered tibia.

Coleman, who will possibly be best remembered for his association with the recently-retired Paisley Park, has undergone a lengthy rehabilitation process but has conceded he will not recover sufficiently to resume his riding career.

“The prognosis early was quite bleak about returning to ride,” he told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday.

“But around September when the rehab was early I was kidding myself that I could get back from this. In early December I had another operation and since that the progress has really plateaued.

“The gym is good because it’s a stable surface but I can’t run or jump. I can’t ride a horse really. A lot of people would say I couldn’t anyway so what’s the difference!

“Since Christmas, every time I’ve tried to ride a horse it’s not really gone well and I just can’t really do it and I definitely wouldn’t be able to ride in a race or anything like that.

“Speaking to Jerry Hill (the BHA’s chief medical adviser) and my surgeon, my chances of improving are negative now, so that’s it. My knee won’t stand the demands of being a jockey or get anywhere near it, so that’s it.”

Coleman enjoyed a successful association early in his career with Venetia Williams but overlooked her 100-1 Grand National winner Mon Mome in favour of stablemate Stan.

There were many good days in a stellar career, though, with Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park winning the Long Walk Hurdle three times and the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019.

Coleman also picked up the rides on Epatante, winning an Aintree Hurdle and two Fighting Fifths, and Jonbon, on whom he won multiple Grade Ones.

“I think the last few years I’ve been at my happiest, riding horses like Paisley Park has been a mainstay since 2019, we picked up Epatante, Jonbon, winning the Champion Chase on Put The Kettle On. I would have a good army of behind me when I got to September and they hit the board regularly,” said Coleman.

“I kind of gave up the idea of being champion jockey and being a slave to the game, that just wasn’t for me. I enjoyed the good horses so much I just wanted to focus on them rather than the numbers and since I did that I think I rode better.”

Leopardstown’s Classic trials card will go ahead as planned after the track passed a 7.30am inspection.

The P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes is one of the highlights having produced several top-class performers over the years, including three subsequent Epsom winners in Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002) and Harzand (2016).

Two other Group Three events in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” Stakes and the Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” Stakes also take place on ground described as heavy.

Clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer said: “The track at Leopardstown is fit for racing and the fixture scheduled for today goes ahead.

“The ground remains heavy but we had no measurable rain at the track in the last 24 hours and some strong winds. Today looks to be mainly sunny and breezy.”

The track at Carlisle also passed a 7am inspection allowing the final day of the Go North Series Finals to go take place, although conditions are heavy.

Tuesday’s meeting at Hexham has been called off though, with areas of false ground and standing water on the course.

Notable Speech and Devoted Queen both remained unbeaten with impressive displays at Kempton, as Charlie Appleby could have unearthed a couple of Classic contenders.

With the form of his previous course-and-distance victory over Cuban Tiger getting a timely boost at Newcastle recently, Dubawi colt Notable Speech was sent off the 4-7 favourite for his third career appearance in the Virgin Bet Best Odds Daily British EBF Conditions Stakes.

Up against some smart rivals, including Ralph Beckett’s well-regarded Derby entrant Valvano, he was ridden with supreme confidence by William Buick and showed a blistering turn of foot as he sprinted past that challenger in the closing stages.

The Godolphin homebred was cut to as short as 14-1 with bet365 for the 2000 Guineas, with his rider feeling he has now justified a step up in grade.

Buick said: “He’s shown the last twice here he can do that and it was a really good performance and he deserves to go up in grade now.

“Today was a warm race with a few unexposed types and he gave away weight to all of them, so I’m delighted.

“I was very pleased with how he has done physically since the last time I rode him – he has really filled out and I feel like he has grown a bit as well, which is always nice to see from a horse who has had two runs.

“I couldn’t be more happy with him and I tested him a little bit today and he quickened up in a stride.

“I just had to pick a path and he’s such a genuine, easy horse to deal with. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.

“It’s so wet, so it was a nice opportunity for him to come here and run again on this surface. I think he would handle a little bit of cut in the ground, but he’s a very fast horse with a low action, so I think he would want a bit of decent ground.

“He’s opened up a few options there but he’s a speedy miler.”

Buick was also in the plate aboard another hot Moulton Paddocks prospect as Devoted Queen overcame her inexperience to instigate a Godolphin double on the card in the Virgin Bet Daily Extra Places British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes.

Although far from the finished article, her jockey was encouraged by the promise shown and is hopeful the 1-2 odds-on scorer can become a smart performer as the season progresses

“It was very much a learning day for her and she has come through it,” added Buick, who also tasted Listed success on the card aboard Joseph O’Brien’s Adelaise.

“She’s very inexperienced and she needs to work on a few things. I’m sure she will get there and today was a new experience for her, she was a bit fresh early but got there in the end.

“When she hit the front, she probably had a bit of a look and showed her inexperience, so all in all I think everyone will be really pleased with that.

“It’s a bit early to say (about the 1000 Guineas) and I’m sure we will get her home and those options will be discussed. She has got the talent.

“She is the type of filly, with the way she is built, that will keep improving and progressing and I’m sure there is plenty to look forward to with her.”

A taking winner of a Newmarket maiden previously, Devoted Queen was trimmed to 20-1 from 25s by Coral for the Qipco 1000 Guineas on May 5.

Duty Of Care booked his ticket to Royal Ascot when going one better than last year in the Virgin Bet Queen’s Prize Handicap at Kempton.

Second to Charlie Appleby’s Bandinelli in the valuable staying contest 12 months ago, Saffie Osborne left nothing to chance aboard her father Jamie’s six-year-old this time around as she tracked the strong pace set by James Owen’s Sweet Fantasy.

Entering the straight for the final time, the 6-1 chance had just Sweet Fantasy ahead and as that rival began to cry enough, Duty Of Care was relishing every yard as he bounded on to a comfortable two-and-three-quarter-length success over fellow race regular Sleeping Lion.

Owned by Pat Gallagher, Duty Of Care could next be seen at Ascot in the summer, with Osborne senior targeting the Ascot Stakes at the royal meeting for the son of Kingman.

The trainer said: “He just needs a true test and the last couple of runs we haven’t had that. We didn’t take any chances today and we stuck him on the front end, and if the pace was going to slacken, we were there, so it stayed true.

“Thankfully, we had a good lead and we didn’t need to do it ourselves and he’s a different horse once it becomes a two-mile race where you need two-mile stamina.

“Pat has been very patient and I have been telling him for a long time that this horse is alright and he keeps getting beaten.

“The Ascot Stakes over two-and-a-half (will be the plan). He will be fine on the turf and he probably won’t run again until then. That’s my plan and I will have to discuss it with the owner, but I think that would be a very obvious call for him now.”

The burden of top-weight proved no barrier to success for Cemhaan as George Baker’s charge secured a surprise victory in the Virgin Bet Every Saturday Money Back Rosebery Handicap at Kempton.

The seven-year-old was already a dual winner at the Sunbury circuit, with his most recent triumph last May followed by a third-place finish behind Vauban in the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot.

He was subsequently well beaten in the Ebor at York, though, and while his January comeback at Kempton was not devoid of promise, he was a 25-1 shot for this £100,000 contest in the hands of Neil Callan.

After jumping out of the stalls smartly, Cemhaan briefly threatened to make all the running before eventually sitting on the heels of both Killybegs Warrior and Old Peculier.

With the pace visibly slackening before the home turn, the front end turned out to be the place to be and both Killybegs Warrior and Cemhaan found another gear once asked to fight out the finish.

Killybegs Warrior did not go down easily, but Cemhaan wore him down late on and passed the post three-quarters of a length to the good, with the free-going Intinso best of the rest in third.

“It was a very good, tough performance – he loves the track, this horse,” Callan said of the winner.

“He’s been so consistent and had a good run at Ascot last year, which just shows you the sort of level he’s been mixing it at.

“I won a small-field handicap on him last year when he dominated from the front and he jumped that well I was going to let him bowl along again today, but James (Doyle, on Killybegs Warrior) was intent on getting to the front.

“I kind of knew when he got there, he would slow it up, which I knew would suit me because my horse had a lot of weight on his back and you wouldn’t want to be stretching him from a long way out.

“I think the way the race panned out played into my hands and as long as I had the revs up going to the junction at the cut-off, I knew I’d pick them off. He’s very genuine and tough.”

Baker’s wife, Candida, added: “George is playing golf in Africa. I think he’d much rather be here today!

“I’m so pleased. Cemhaan went all the way to St Moritz and then the racing was called off, which was very annoying as all the owners were out there and it takes about three days to get him there.

“This was always the plan for him once we brought him back. With that top-weight, he was so tough, I got the saddle off Neil and I was carrying it thinking, ‘God, I’m not going to put this on him too early if I can help it’. He’s just so genuine, tries so much and I’m chuffed to bits, he owes us nothing.

“Neil is an excellent jockey – when he’s in a ride-off against another jockey, I’d back him every time, even when it’s against James Doyle.”

Adelaise pulled out all the stops in the Virgin Bet Daily Price Boosts Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes to give Joseph O’Brien a raiding winner at Kempton on Saturday.

The five-year-old produced some consistent performances in several competitive heats last term, but finally secured a valuable black type victory in the hands of William Buick at the Sunbury track.

Sent off the 100-30 second favourite for the one-mile Listed event, Adelaise was ridden along by her pilot with two furlongs to run, but soon hit top gear as she began a ding-dong battle to the line with 5-2 market leader Choisya.

There was little to separate the two protagonists inside the final half furlong, but the Irish challenger got her head in front where it mattered most to make O’Brien’s first UK Flat runner of the year a winning one.

Buick said: “She was a bit in my hands early and a bit fresh, but she was always in a nice rhythm and I attacked early in the straight.

“We didn’t go overly quick and I knew she would stay all the way to the line. She definitely got headed, so she had to show true grit. I think a mile is her trip and she may get a little bit further, but we will see.

“I’ve ridden a winner for Joseph before and it’s nice to get a call-up from him – he doesn’t come over here for nothing.

“I think this was very important for both her and connections to get that valuable black type against her name and hopefully there will be a bit of improvement to come for the rest of the season.”

Last year’s winner Pic D’Orhy, Ryanair Chase hero Protektorat and Cheltenham Festival absentee Jonbon are among 13 entries for the My Pension Expert Melling Chase at Aintree on Friday.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Pic D’Orhy was a decisive winner of the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One 12 months ago and has deliberately been saved for the defence of his crown since claiming the notable scalp of L’Homme Presse in the Ascot Chase in February.

Dan Skelton, who is challenging his former mentor for the champion trainer title this season, entered Protektorat for Thursday’s Aintree Bowl over three miles but has also given him the option of sticking to a shorter distance the following day.

Nicky Henderson’s crack two miler Jonbon sidestepped the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham during what was a tough week for the Seven Barrows team and will therefore be fresher than some on what will be his first attempt at this trip.

The Willie Mullins-trained Easy Game, Joseph O’Brien’s Banbridge, Gordon Elliott’s pair of Ash Tree Meadow and Conflated and the Henry de Bromhead-trained duo of Envoi Allen and Jungle Boogie are all possible challengers from Ireland.

Elixir De Nutz (Joe Tizzard), Funambule Sivola (Venetia Williams), Minella Drama (Donald McCain) and Thunder Rock (Olly Murphy) are the other contenders.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero Slade Steel is the potential star attraction in the Trustatrader Top Novices’ Hurdle.

De Bromhead’s charge is one of 21 contenders for the Grade One contest and part of a formidable Irish contingent that also includes Elliott’s mare Brighterdaysahead and Supreme second Mystical Power, who leads a five-strong Mullins squad.

Caldwell Potter, bought for €740,000 out of Elliott’s yard for an ownership group which includes Sir Alex Ferguson, is pencilled in to make his debut for Nicholls in the same race, while Cheltenham Festival heroine Golden Ace (Jeremy Scott) and unbeaten mare Dysart Enos (Fergal O’Brien) also feature.

The opening Huyton Asphalt Franny Blennerhassett Memorial Mildmay Novices’ Chase is similarly strong, with Grey Dawning (Skelton), Corbetts Cross (Emmet Mullins), Inothewayurthinkin (Gavin Cromwell) and Chianti Classico (Kim Bailey) all potentially bidding to follow up Cheltenham Festival success.

The fourth and final Grade One on the card is the Cavani Sartorial Menswear Sefton Novices’ Hurdle, which features the Albert Bartlett one-two of Stellar Story (Elliott) and The Jukebox Man (Ben Pauling).

Il Est Francais lost his unbeaten record over fences after trailing home a bitterly disappointing last of five in the Grade Two Prix Murat at Auteuil.

Trained in France by Noel George and Amanda Zetterholm, the six-year-old was thoroughly impressive in winning his first three starts over the larger obstacles, with back-to-back wins at Auteuil followed by a brilliant front-running victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Connections soon ruled out a return to Britain for the Cheltenham Festival, instead electing to remain on home soil for the time being, with a tilt at next month’s Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris – the French equivalent of the Cheltenham Gold Cup – top of his agenda.

Il Est Francais was unsurprisingly prohibitive odds to make a successful return from just over three months off the track and with the extra mile of the Grand Steep perhaps in mind, James Reveley switched to more patient tactics, initially attempting to settle his mount at the rear of the five-strong field.

The Yorkshireman eventually gave Il Est Francais his head and allowed him to stride in front, but the petrol tank quickly ran to empty on straightening up for home and he had almost stopped to a walk by the time he clambered over the final fence.

Reveley allowed his mount to coast home from there on in as Youtwo Glass narrowly denied the George and Zetterholm second string Gallipoli victory in a driving finish.

Paddy Twomey is likely to have a clearer idea about Deepone’s potential ambitions for the rest of the season after he makes his return in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The Study Of Man colt finished off his juvenile campaign in fine style, winning the Group Two Beresford Stakes by a length and threequarters at the Curragh in September, his third success from five starts.

Prior to that, he came home fourth behind Diego Velazquez in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and was runner-up in the Churchill Stakes at Tipperary.

Deepone, who holds big-race entries in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Derby at Epsom, will take a step up in trip on his three-year-old debut for this recognised Classic trial over 10 furlongs, won previously by the likes of Galileo, High Chaparral, Fame And Glory and Harzand.

“He’s wintered well and I think it’s a good place to start,” said Twomey.

“He has a 5lb penalty for his win in the Beresford Stakes last season, but we’re looking forward to running him on Sunday.

“I think stepping up in trip will play to his strengths, I think a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half should be well within his compass.”

Aidan O’Brien has three entries as he goes in search of a 12th Ballysax success, including Illinois, a soft-ground scorer at the Curragh before finishing third behind stablemate Los Angeles in the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Ocean Of Dreams made a huge impression on his racecourse debut at this track in October, romping home by six lengths on heavy going, while The Euphrates obliged on his second outing at Gowran Park when the mud was flying.

The field is completed by Dallas Star, with the Amo Racing-owned Zetland Stakes third making his first start for Adrian Murray after moving from the yard of Dominic Ffrench Davis.

Twomey has another promising three-year-old making a seasonal debut on the same card as A Lilac Rolla contests the Group Three Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” Stakes.

A filly by Harry Angel, A Lilac Rolla enjoyed a brief but flawless juvenile season, winning on her July debut at Cork before taking a Curragh fillies’ race by a head from Opera Singer the following month.

That form could hardly have worked out better, as Opera Singer went on to win the Group Three Newtownanner Stud Stakes by six and a half lengths and then the elite-level Prix Marcel Boussac by five lengths.

“She had a good year last year, she won her maiden and then she won her next race in good style,” Twomey said.

“She beat a very good filly in Opera Singer, she’s wintered well and is ready to start.

“The ground conditions may not be ideal but she’s in a good place and this is a good starting point for the season ahead.

“It was a good race (the Curragh race), she’s done well all winter and we’re looking forward to getting her started.”

Elsewhere in the seven-furlongs contest, there are four Ballydoyle runners in Buttons, Cherry Blossom, Greenfinch and Sweetest, with Donnacha O’Brien set to saddle Mysteries.

Joseph Murphy has entered Alpheratz, Jim Bolger is represented by Finsceal Luas and the field is completed by Natalia Lupini’s Kitty Rose, Noel Meade’s Money Dancer, Ger Lyons’ Wendla and the Alice Haynes-trained British raider Lexington Belle.

The other Group Three on the card is the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” Stakes, which features Aidan O’Brien’s trio of Battle Cry, Samuel Colt and The Liffey, as well as Joseph O’Brien’s course and distance winner Atlantic Coast, plus Jack Davison’s dominant Madrid Handicap winner Take Me To Church.

Sunway will be out to keep Classic dreams alive when he returns to action in the Prix la Force at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

David Menuisier’s colt highlighted his ability right from the beginning of his two-year-old campaign and although fluffing his lines in the Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot, was back to his best when second in a soft-ground Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September.

He ended the season by striking at the highest level in Saint-Cloud’s Criterium International and it is no surprise the son of Galiway heads back to France for the first outing of his Classic season in the hands of regular big-race pilot Oisin Murphy.

“The horse seems well and he had a stretch of the legs at Kempton the other day and we were very pleased with him,” said Menuisier.

“He’s in a good place for a first run and we will be keeping our fingers crossed.

“It is famous last words, but the ground shouldn’t be an issue. It will be hard on the horses but we feel ours goes on it quite good and the trip shouldn’t be a problem, so we go there quite positive.”

Sunway holds an entry for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in early May, but Menuisier would like to keep treading a continental path with his star colt, with a return to his homeland for the French Derby at Chantilly high up on the three-year-old’s list of priorities.

“Later down the line, we would like to aim at the Prix du Jockey Club, but we need to take races one by one, obviously,” he added.

“We could drop back in trip to run in one of the Guineas or we could go up in trip to run in a Derby trial next month. It will all depend on what happens this weekend and what Oisin and the owners think – and then we will take it from there.”

There is plenty of British interest in the French capital on Sunday afternoon and Charlie Appleby’s one-time Derby hopeful Military Order will continue his recovery mission in the Prix d’Harcourt.

A winner of three of his first four starts, the son of Frankel was sent off at 9-2 when disappointing at Epsom last summer.

Another failure at Chester followed, but having been gelded over the winter, he has produced two encouraging displays on the all-weather, landing the Winter Derby at Southwell most recently.

Rivals in the 10-furlong Group Two include Grand Prix de Paris winner Feed The Flame and Patrice Cottier’s multiple winner and Champion Stakes third Horizon Dore, with Military Order one of two Godolphin candidates alongside Andre Fabre’s Birr Castle.

“Military Order goes into this in good shape on the back of his Winter Derby success,” Appleby told

“Conditions will be testing in Paris, although he handled soft ground at Newbury last season.”

Karl Burke’s Molten Rock will attempt to build on her encouraging third in Newmarket’s Montrose Stakes on her return to action in the Group Three Prix Vanteaux, while both Jack Channon’s Gather Ye Rosebuds and Kevin Philippart De Foy’s Ermesinde will take part in the Listed Prix Zarkava.

Leopardstown’s high-profile meeting on Sunday, due to feature a recognised Derby trial in the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, will have to pass a 7.30am inspection if it is to go ahead.

The Group Three contest has thrown up several top-class performers over the years, including three subsequent Epsom winners in Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002) and Harzand (2016).

Leopardstown is also due to stage two other Group Three events in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” Stakes and the Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” Stakes, but the prospect of further rain falling on already heavy ground has prompted IHRB clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer to call a morning check.

He said: “Following three millimetres of rain since declarations, the track at Leopardstown is heavy and fit for racing at present.

“According to Met Eireann, there is the potential for a further three to five millimetres of rain throughout today into tomorrow, as well as the high winds associated with Storm Kathleen today.

“Due to the current adverse weather conditions, we will have a 7.30am inspection on Sunday morning to assess the situation.”

Downpatrick’s meeting on Sunday has already been cancelled, while officials at Carlisle have announced a precautionary inspection for 7am ahead of the scheduled final day of the Go North Series Finals.

Saturday’s meeting at Uttoxeter was given the go-ahead following a morning check, but racing at the Curragh was called off due to waterlogging.

Tuesday’s Flat meeting at Navan has been called off, while Hexham’s jumps card on the same day also looks in serious doubt, with officials calling an inspection for 7.30am on Sunday.

Looking even further ahead, officials at Leicester have announced an inspection for 8am on Tuesday ahead of the track’s scheduled fixture on Friday, with the course currently waterlogged and unraceable.

This afternoon’s National Hunt meeting at Uttoxeter will go ahead as scheduled after the track passed a morning inspection, but racing at the Curragh has been abandoned.

Hopes of any turf racing taking place in Britain on Saturday hinged a second precautionary check at Uttoxeter at 7.30am. An initial inspection was staged at 2pm on Friday and while there was standing water in some areas, the track was described as raceable.

Officials announced a further precautionary inspection for raceday morning and were able to give the fixture the go-ahead.

The news was not so good in Ireland, with a Curragh card due to feature the Group Three Alleged Stakes abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

Brendan Sheridan, the IHRB clerk of the course at the Curragh, said: “Following a further four millimetres of rain in the last 24 hours, unfortunately we have to cancel the fixture scheduled at the Curragh today as parts of the track are just not fit for racing.”

The disruption could continue on Sunday, with meetings at Carlisle and Downpatrick subject to morning inspections at 7am and 7.30am respectively.

Tuesday’s Flat meeting at Navan has already been cancelled, while Hexham’s jumps card on the same day also looks in serious doubt, with officials calling an inspection for 7.30am on Sunday.

Looking even further ahead, officials at Leicester have announced an inspection for 8am on Tuesday ahead of the track’s scheduled fixture on Friday, with the course currently waterlogged and unraceable.

Just days after completing a ninth-consecutive Trainers' Championship triumph at Florida’s Gulfstream Park, Barbadian Saffie Joseph Jnr, kicked off the new season with a double on Thursday’s opening day of the Spring/Summer meet.

Joseph won the fourth and sixth races, the richest on the eight-race card. In the US$60,000 Maiden Special Weight fourth race, Joseph’s four-year-old filly Divine won with Edwin Gonzalez aboard as the 3-2 favourite. Joseph completed the double with 2-1 bet Imonra in the US$62,000 Allowance Optional Claiming sixth race with Paco Lopez riding.

The Spring/Summer meet, which Joseph has won for the past four consecutive years since 2020, runs until September 29.

Joseph is currently ranked eighth on the 2024 trainers’ list in all of North America with horses’ earnings of US$3.07 million.

Reflecting on his championship feat which he wrapped up last weekend, Joseph attributed the win to the quality of his team. The 37-year-old ended the campaign with 66 winners and in excess of US $3.4 million in purse earnings, once again ahead of Hall-of-Famer Todd Pletcher, who finished second with 37 winners.

“We’re always trying to get better, and to win a third championship meet in a row was very gratifying for all the work that the staff put in, and that’s what puts me in this position. I have a good team that works hard and we try to do it together. And the owners that supply these horses, the horses are the backbone and the big piece of the puzzle," Joseph said.

“We’ve got quality and we’ve got quantity, and that’s what you need to win titles and to stay relevant in today’s industry. You’ve got to keep winning. That’s what people want," he added.

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