The first day of Lingfield’s Winter Million Festival has been cancelled due to a frozen track.
Officials inspected at 8.30am on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s jumps card, which was set to be headlined by the Grade Two Download The Racing App Lightning Novices’ Chase.
Despite covering the whole track with fleece last Saturday, there are frozen areas under the covers and with temperatures not forecast to rise sufficiently before the meeting, the seven-race card has been cancelled.
Clerk of the course Stephanie Wethered said: “We’re really gutted that we’ve had to abandon Friday’s card, but with the lower than expected temperatures that we saw on Monday night of minus 7C, followed by last night’s frost of minus 1C, we do still have frost under the fleece.
“Tonight we could get down to minus 6C and on Thursday night we’re due to go down to minus 5C, so looking at that forecast, I don’t see there being sufficient improvement ahead of Friday.”
The Winter Million is a three-day fixture, with Saturday’s card featuring Flat racing on the all-weather track and Sunday seeing jumps action, including the richly-endowed Fleur De Lys Chase.
That card will now be further enhanced, with the British Horseracing Authority announcing the Lightning will be rescheduled for Sunday, with original entries standing but new declarations to be made on Friday morning.
Wethered added: “Looking at the forecast, it looks to improve for Saturday and Sunday’s racing, with positive temperatures coming through Saturday itself and we’re forecast to be plus 3C overnight from Saturday into Sunday.
“We’re delighted that we’ve been able to move the Lightning to Sunday’s card.”
There will be no National Hunt action in Britain on Thursday with Ludlow abandoned due to a frozen track following an inspection on Wednesday morning. The other scheduled meetings at Wincanton and Newcastle were cancelled earlier in the week.
Friday’s card at Market Rasen is also now subject to a precautionary check at noon on Thursday, but Wednesday’s Southwell jumps fixture did get the go-ahead following a morning check.
Officials at Taunton have announced an inspection for noon on Friday ahead of Saturday’s fixture, with the track currently unraceable and further frost forecast for the next two nights.
Thursday’s meeting at Fairyhouse has been called off, with the card transferred to January 24 as the track is frozen.
Brendan Sheridan, IHRB clerk of the course, said: “Unfortunately the track at Fairyhouse remains unfit for racing following our inspection today.
“We called the inspection for later this morning to see if there would be sufficient thaw in the ground closer to what would be race time on Thursday but temperatures are still below zero at the moment and the track is still frozen.
“Temperatures are not due to rise sufficiently prior to racing tomorrow so the fixture scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled.
“Having consulted with Horse Racing Ireland we can confirm that the fixture will now take place next Wednesday with fresh entries closing tomorrow.”
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