Snow threat prompts Chepstow inspection

Officials at Chepstow have announced a precautionary inspection ahead of the rescheduled Coral Welsh Grand National meeting on Saturday.

The high-profile fixture was originally due to take place on December 27, but was called off due to a waterlogged track.

Two weeks on, it is the threat of frost and snow that is causing issues – and on Thursday morning, clerk of the course Libby O’Flaherty called a precautionary check for 2.30pm on Friday.

She said: “We’ve called a precautionary inspection because from midday until mid-afternoon (on Friday) we’ve got snow forecast.

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“We’re currently raceable. The course is completely covered and we’ve got great grass cover. There’s a little bit of leaf frost this morning, but there’s no frost in the ground.

“We could get one centimetre of snow (on Friday), we could get 10 or we could get nothing at all.

“We’re just managing expectations.”

Racing at Wincanton on Saturday is also under threat. With the course frozen in places on Thursday morning, an inspection has been called for midday on Friday.

Friday’s Taunton meeting was abandoned shortly before lunchtime on Thursday, with the course frozen and the forecast offering no prospect of sufficient improvement, while Thursday’s Ffos Las card was called off 15 minutes before the first race was due to get underway after four inspections.

The decision was made after a deputation, including trainers, jockeys and racing officials, examined the track.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have the temperatures we were supposed to have and that is the biggest problem we’ve had today,” clerk of the course Dai Jones told Sky Sports Racing.

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“There was a representation from the jockeys and, to be fair to them, they felt the racing line was perfectly raceable and they were happy to race on it. There are a couple of areas that we needed more sun on and we were working on it.

“There were a couple of areas we decided we could fence off a little, but the stewards felt if there were any loose horses coming back from those areas, it could cause a problem.

“Safety is paramount for horse and rider. We dragged people down here so we feel bad, but some people are saying what else could we gave done. If the sun had broken out sooner we would have been fine.”

Sunday’s meeting at Exeter will have to pass a 4pm check on Saturday while the cold snap is also being felt in Ireland, with Thursday’s Clonmel card abandoned and Saturday’s meeting at Fairyhouse subject to a Friday inspection at midday.

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