As the sun shines across the country, and temperatures soar this week, many of our racecourses nationwide are watering to maintain safe ground conditions for our horses and jockeys.
Racing in the summer is all about short-sleeved shirts, summer dresses and shades, not to mention stopping for a 99 on the way home from a great evening at the races. What’s not to love?
It is reminiscent of the good old days, and people appear to be in better form as they enjoy a healthy blast of vitamin D after their day at the races.
This week Evelyn Cusack, head of forecasting at Met Éireann and a wellknown RTÉ weather presenter, addressed members of the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) at an extraordinary general meeting held at the Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge on Tuesday.
In a most interesting presentation, she described how the Met office works, how it services all 26 Irish racecourses, and how AIR and the Met office can enhance these services going forward.
Global warming is a real concern as we all know, but how is it affecting Ireland at the moment? Trends like an increase in average temperatures, more rainfall in the west and northwest, and warmer summers are all obvious indications. Though not as dramatic as what they are experiencing on the continent, the climate is being impacted here in Ireland as well.
Racecourses liaise with the Met office all year, and every track is pinned on their website, offering up to 10-day forecasting and modelling specific to within 2.5 kilometres. This will soon be within a kilometre as enhancements are made to a new computer housed in Iceland.
The Met Éireann Weather Ireland app is free to download, and is a handy tool for racecourses and many other industry stakeholders, offering superior quality resolution and a five-day weather warning system.
Evelyn encouraged managers to consider putting a weather station at their racecourses to help assess the accuracy of the data supplied to them from Met Éireann. This could be a project for someone considering a topic in this area for a PhD. Met Éireann can provide widgets for tracks to embed on their websites, offering racegoers and visitors to the website specific up-to-date forecasting. This is an initiative that was welcomed by those in attendance. A new information system will also be set up to help racecourses with detailed daily forecasting.
Paddy Walsh, chief executive of AIR said: “It was great to have Evelyn join us on Tuesday. Racecourses work closely with Met Éireann and the information they offer our members is crucial to decision making. The planning, preparation and maintenance of the track surfaces is a major part of the work our members do in advance of each fixture, to ensure safe and optimal going conditions each race day. Great progress was made on Tuesday and I’m sure more will come following this meeting, with key points like the timing of updates and the dissemination of information being looked at as a direct result.”
Multiple going reports in advance of race meetings are key to making entries, declarations, owners’ communications and the planning of staff rosters. Weather forecasting and science-based probability and modelling are also extremely important to all stakeholders.
To download the Met Éireann Weather Ireland app visit the App Store or Google Play where it is available free of charge. Another good weather app which is popular with AIR members is yr.no, a service provided by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and NRK. Desktop versions of each of these services are readily available free of charge online.
By Leo Powell