Warrnambool on standy for National meeting

MELBOURNE Aug 17 2016

Warrnambool is on standby to host the Grand National Steeplechase if more wet weather hits Ballarat.

Racing Victoria will make the call on Friday whether to transfer Sunday's meeting.

Six jumps races will be run with visiting Irish jockey Katie Walsh, the sister of last year's winning jockey Ruby Walsh, a main attraction.

An unseasonally wet winter, resulting in more than 240mm of rain through May, June and July has forced meetings to be transferred from Ballarat.

A two-day jumps festival at Ballarat on Saturday and Sunday was last week condensed to one day.

Ballarat had fine weather on Wednesday with a windy day and 18 degrees expected on Thursday ahead of 6-15mm of rain on Friday.

Paul Bloodworth, Racing Victoria's racing operations manager, said Saturday's forecast was for 0-2mm of rain and 2-6mm on Sunday.

"The main concern is Sunday if the forecast happened to change to say 10-15 mils on Thursday night or Friday morning," Bloodworth said.

"We probably think we'd have an issue if that was the forecast.

Bloodworth said Warrnambool had agreed to host the meeting if needed.

"The latest we'll do anything is Friday morning. Post that we haven't got enough time to get everyone organised and the jumps set up," Bloodworth said.

He said there were a few bare patches in the home straight which were causing concern.

"We've still got some discussions to have with the stewards and that will take place in the next 24 to 48 hours before Friday morning," Bloodworth said.

Riders Steven Pateman, Tom Ryan, Paul Hamblin and John Allen galloped horses on Wednesday giving the track the thumbs up.

Covers to protect the affected areas are ready to use ahead of Friday's expected rain.



Craig Brennan - AAP

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