THEY may be tiny – but chafer grubs have caused disruption to the end of Goodwood’s season.
They are the larvae of chafer beetles and they have infested a small area of the racecourse – forcing remedial work which has forced the cancellation of three six-furlong races.
Each of the races will be replaced by a similar-length race that does not require the affected section of track – just east of the five-furlong start – where work has already begun to get rid of the bugs and repair the damage they have caused to the grass.
Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said it was a blessing the grubs had caused a problem now rather than before or in the middle of a big festival like Glorious.
One six-furlong race due to be run at next Wednesday’s meeting has been replaced by a seven-furlong contest, while two six-furlong dashes at the season finale on October 12 will also be replaced. The move has been approved by the British Horseracing Authority.
Waterworth said: “It’s a bit of a problem regarding next week’s race because there will have been one or two trainers targeting that race. But at least we have found the problem this week and not a couple of days before the meeting.
“We’re massively relieve it didn’t happen just before Glorious Goodwood, or even on a part of the racecourse that is used for more or all races.”
Chafer grubs thrive after a mild winter, maturing around this time of year if they have not been killed off by natural elements.
They either feed on decaying plant material or plant roots and several species that feed on grass roots can become a pest problem in lawns.
Clerk of the course Seamus Buckley and his groundstaff have already started dealing with the bugs as staff feared any delay could create a larger area being affected later on.
Waterworth said: “The BHA inspector of courses came down and the BHA have been very helpful in dealing with the issue.
“We’ve had chafer bugs around the estate before but no-one can remember having them affecting the actual racecourse.”