Inspection at Newbury – and ‘concerning’ forecast for Cheltenham

The prospect of continued wintry weather is giving officials a headache at Newbury and Cheltenham – where high-profile meetings are due to take place on Tuesday and New Year’s Day.

The card at Newbury, set to feature the Grade One MansionBet Challow Novices’ Hurdle, is subject to a precautionary inspection on Tuesday morning because of the threat of frost.

The Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle is Friday’s feature at Cheltenham – where the going is currently heavy, waterlogged in places, with colder weather bringing sleet and snow expected this week.

While Newbury clerk of the course Keith Ottesen reports the Berkshire track to be perfectly raceable at present, the threat of an overnight frost and possible wintry showers has prompted him to call an 8.30am check.

He said: “We have covered the racing lines on both the hurdles and chase tracks. It might drop to 0C or -1C, with daytime temperatures of 2C or 3C – so pretty similar to today really, with the possibility of some wintry showers.

“We are perfectly raceable today – and the inspection is purely precautionary – but there is no point in being complacent, so we will have a look in the morning.”

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The going is currently described as soft at the Berkshire venue.

At Cheltenham, clerk of the course Simon Claisse, described the forecast as “concerning”.

The track has been hit with 110 millimetres of rain since the last meeting there on December 12. The further worry for officials is that sleet and snow is forecast, with overnight frosts and daytime temperatures of 3C.

“It’s a concerning forecast in that we wouldn’t take much more rain and sleet or snow,” said Claisse.

“We’re not in a position to cover, given our track is waterlogged at the moment.

“There’s snow in the forecast. It’s fingers crossed really we dodge the worst of the cold and any further rain.

“We’ll take stock tomorrow, then it’s declarations on Wednesday and racing on Friday.”

Conditions are also on the easy side at Doncaster and Kelso – with an inspection scheduled at the Scottish track for 7.30am “in case temperatures are lower than forecast overnight”.

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Southwell will be racing on the all-weather.

Wednesday’s meeting at Haydock has already been called off because of snow.

The Merseyside venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but four inches of snow fell at the track overnight, forcing the cancellation of the meeting.

The course tweeted: “Unfortunately due to four inches of snow overnight and substantial rain on Boxing Day, racing has been abandoned on Wednesday 30th December.”

Racing is still set to go ahead at Market Rasen and Taunton over jumps, with an all-weather card at Wolverhampton.

The scheduled jumps card at Uttoxeter has been abandoned because of waterlogging, however, on Thursday – when an additional all-weather meeting will take place at Newcastle.

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