Hastings Race Track Vancouver East

There’s “light at the end of the tunnel,” but not much sun.

Atrocious winter weather has delayed the start of the season at Hastings Racecourse, but the wait is over — racing starts Sunday afternoon at 1:50 p.m., even though rain is in the forecast.

“It’s a relief to see the light at the end of the tunnel after what has been the toughest winter in decades,” said Hastings general manager Darren MacDonald.

The inclement weather interrupted the February and March training schedules, but the new 52-day thoroughbred racing schedule begins today with two $50,000 stake races — the Brighouse Belles and Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural.

“The Swift Thoroughbreds Inaugural will have a field of 11 with seven of the horses having won at least one stake race in 2016,” said MacDonald. “Without a doubt, it will be one of the most interesting and competitive opening day cards in a number of years at Hastings.”

Richard Hamel, leading jockey at Hastings last year for a fourth time in his career, rides the morning line favourites in both featured stakes: Modern (5-2) in the Swift Inaugural and C U At Eau Claire (2-1) in the Brighouse Belles.

“I’ve been around long enough to realize you never know what to expect once that gate opens,” said the 48-year-old Hamel. “It’s always a challenge.”

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