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Further inspection required for Warwick

Saturday’s meeting at Warwick hinges on an 8.30am inspection on Friday.

Clerk of the course Jane Hedley held an initial check at 2pm on Thursday, with the course reported to be frozen in places despite the track having been covered earlier in the week.

That afternoon inspection showed the venue to be “largely raceable”, but with further freezing overnight temperatures expected, along with a cold day on Friday, Hedley admits an improved forecast is required.

She said: “We’re largely raceable under the covers, there’s just a few patches that might give us some concern.

“If the forecast was just one or two degrees out, we might be fine, so we’ll have a look in the morning and take into account the updated forecasts.

“On the current forecast, we would be unlikely to race, but it’s a bit too early to pull the plug.”

The seven-race card is due to feature the Grade Two Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices’ Chase and should it be called off on Saturday, the British Horseracing Authority has announced it will be rescheduled for Monday.

The fixture will be run in full, with original entries standing and new declarations taken by 10am on Saturday.

Saturday’s other jumps fixture, the Betfair Hurdle meeting at Newbury, is also subject to an 8.30am inspection on Friday.

An 8am inspection is required for Chelmsford, who are scheduled to race on Friday evening, while Monday’s jumps meeting at Lingfield has already been called off.

Clerk of the course George Hill reported the course to be waterlogged and frozen, with little chance of improvement, following a 2pm assessment on Thursday.

The venue will now stage a jumpers’ bumper card on the all-weather track instead.

There has been no jumps action in Britain since Musselburgh raced on Sunday, while Monday’s meeting at Fairyhouse was the last turf meeting to be staged in Ireland.

Thurles’ Thursday card was initially given the go-ahead, but further snow at the track saw the meeting called off shortly before 12pm.

Newcastle were forced to call off an all-weather meeting on Wednesday due to snow, but Thursday’s meeting was given the go-ahead after the track passed a second inspection.

Hopes fading for big weekend card at Newbury

Newbury’s Betfair Super Saturday fixture is already in serious doubt after officials announced a course inspection for Friday morning.

The Berkshire circuit is due to stage a mouthwatering card, featuring the £125,000 Betfair Hurdle, as well as recognised trials for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in the shape of the Denman Chase and the Game Spirit Chase respectively.

Dual King George hero Clan Des Obeaux, last season’s RSA Chase winner Champ and superstar chaser Altior are just some of the big names who are set to be on show.

However, with the track already frozen in places under the frost covers and sub-zero temperatures forecast for the rest of the week, clerk of the course Keith Ottesen is not optimistic ahead of a Friday inspection at 8.30am.

He said: “It was only minus 2C overnight, but it didn’t get above zero on Tuesday, so it’s not just the night-time temperatures that are a problem.

“It’s a cumulative effect of the temperature zero or below for a number of days. You’ve got to cover up to give it every chance, but with the forecast the way it is, the fleece covers that we use don’t offer enough protection for such a prolonged period of cumulative frost.

“We haven’t got the best forecast going forward. It’s going to be very cold tonight and into Thursday morning, the same thing Friday night into Saturday and not much better Thursday into Friday.

“At this stage it’s far too early to do anything but to call an inspection for Friday, but really we need a change in the forecast to come.

“Unless there is a complete change, it will be a struggle.”

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Nicky Henderson (left) and Paul Nicholls will be hoping races can be restaged
Nicky Henderson (left) and Paul Nicholls will be hoping races can be restaged (David Davies/PA)

High-profile trainers Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are among those calling for the major races to be rescheduled – and Ottesen revealed discussions are already under way about the possibility of the entire card being moved to a later date.

He added: “We’re definitely talking about it at the moment. We need a number of things to align.

“From a Newbury point of view, we’d like to run the whole day, rather than just move races here and there. We’re just working on whether we can reschedule the day in the next week when conditions allow.

“I can’t really say more than that at the moment. Obviously there’s TV, sponsors, the Levy Board and the BHA (involved). We’ve been talking about it all week to try to find a solution, obviously with the support of Betfair (sponsors).”

Wednesday’s all-weather fixture at Newcastle was called off due to snow.

The venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but overnight snow forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am, before checking conditions again at 10am.

That second inspection showed the track was not fit for action and Armstrong abandoned the fixture, with an inspection called for 10am on Thursday ahead of the planned evening card that day.

Armstrong said: “We’ve had something like three inches of snow, but it’s powdery, dry stuff. It’s cold, the temperatures aren’t going to start rising until later this morning and there’s the possibility of more snow.

“We’ve worked the track, but it’s got into the surface profile and it’s starting to ball up a bit, so it’s a fairly easy decision to make really.

“We’ll inspect at 10am for tomorrow’s meeting. We’ll use the windows of sunshine today to work the track and try to help it thaw out.”

Wolverhampton’s evening card was also subject to a 10am check, but the fixture got the go-ahead.

Racing has been called off at Ffos Las
Racing has been called off at Ffos Las (David Davies/PA)

There will be no jumps action in Britain on Thursday though, as Ffos Las’ meeting has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Newcastle card becomes latest casualty of cold snap

Wednesday’s all-weather fixture at Newcastle has been called off due to snow.

The venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but overnight snow forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am, before checking conditions again at 10am.

That second inspection showed the track was not fit for action and Armstrong abandoned the fixture, with an inspection called for 10am on Thursday ahead of the planned evening card.

Armstrong said: “We’ve had something like three inches of snow, but it’s powdery, dry stuff. It’s cold, the temperatures aren’t going to start rising until later this morning and there’s the possibility of more snow.

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“We’ve worked the track, but it’s got into the surface profile and it’s starting to ball up a bit, so it’s a fairly easy decision to make really.

“We’ll inspect at 10am for tomorrow’s meeting. We’ll use the windows of sunshine today to work the track and try to help it thaw out.”

Wolverhampton’s evening card was also subject to a 10am check, but the fixture got the go-ahead.

Racing has been called off at Ffos Las
Racing has been called off at Ffos Las (David Davies/PA)

There will be no jumps action in Britain on Thursday though, as Ffos Las’ meeting has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Frost claims Ffos Las card

Thursday’s meeting at Ffos Las has been called off due to a frozen track.

Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.

However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.

The course tweeted: “Despite the huge efforts of our ground staff team to cover the course, tomorrow’s race meeting has been abandoned – parts of the track are frozen and temperatures are not forecast to rise sufficiently for it to thaw.”

Newcastle and Wolverhampton will both have to pass 10am inspections if today’s meetings are to go ahead.

Newcastle is due to stage a seven-race card kicking off at 1.30pm, but overnight snow combined with temperatures of -5C overnight forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am.

With further snow flurries a possibility, Armstrong then opted to check again at 10am.

He tweeted: “Temps currently -1.5c. Light snow flurries on & off. Course worked from early hrs at least three times. Need temps to rise to assist in melting snow mixed within the Tapeta profile. Will work again soon as temps lift further.”

Wolverhampton’s eight-race fixture starts at 4.45pm and it too is subject to a 10am inspection.

The track had a light covering of snow overnight, but officials remain optimistic of the card going ahead as planned.

Thursday’s Thurles card is also under threat, with a precautionary check planned for 7.30am on race day.

An Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board statement said: “Due to a Status Yellow weather warning in place for snow and ice, there will be a 7.30am precautionary inspection at Thurles tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the fixture scheduled to take place.

“The track is currently fit for racing and the going is soft (chase) and soft to heavy (hurdle/bumper).”

Taunton off as freeze takes toll

Taunton’s meeting was abandoned after an early-morning inspection on Tuesday – leaving a second successive blank day in the British jump racing calendar.

As the freeze takes hold, Taunton’s card was called off before 7am.

A Tweet on Taunton’s official account read: “Racing today has been abandoned. Temps overnight down to – 3C. Course frozen with no prospect/forecast of temps rising above 0C until around 1pm with a high of +1C”

Market Rasen’s meeting was abandoned after an inspection the previous afternoon – but there will be a jumpers’ bumper card at Kempton on Tuesday, after that course passed a morning inspection called because of forecast overnight snow.

Southwell’s all-weather evening Flat fixture is also set to go ahead.

Doncaster’s meeting on Thursday will, however, not take place after the course failed inspection on Tuesday morning – with snow on the track.

Wednesday’s National Hunt card at Ludlow was also abandoned following an inspection on Tuesday morning.

Thursday’s fixture at Ffos Las is also in some doubt, needing to pass an 8.30am precautionary inspection on Wednesday.

A tweet from the course said: “In view of updated weather forecast, we will hold a precautionary inspection at 8.30am tomorrow to assess impact of overnight temps ahead of racing on Thursday. Forecast -2 overnight & early morning, up to -4/-5 inland. We hope our coastal location will help with milder airflow.”

Sedgefield abandoned – after four inspections

Sedgefield was forced to abandon Monday’s meeting after a fourth inspection of the course – which took place at 12.30pm, the initial scheduled time of the first race.

Hopes rose for much of the morning that temperatures would increase sufficiently to allow the seven-race card to go ahead, having dipped to -2C overnight.

But they never did so, as the winter sun faded and cloud cover moved back in – with frost still in the ground.

After an initial inspection on Sunday afternoon, the announcement of another at 8.30am – put back to 10am – and then two more, the abandonment was finally confirmed on Sedgefield’s official Twitter feed.

It read: “Unfortunately racing today is abandoned.”

Clerk of the course Michael Naughton said: “The stewards took everything into account, and it was just the odd patches that were still frozen. It wasn’t worth taking the risk for safety reasons.

“It had improved, and the sun is back out again. In another hour we may have been OK, but we couldn’t put it back any further and have another inspection.”

In the hours up to 12.30, it was clear several trainers were not prepared to let their horses take part – with 26 non-runners announced because of the going.

Naughton added: “It was just patches of the course that were giving us problems.

“The majority of the course was OK. There were a couple of patches where the clouds went against us. At one point cloud cover came over, and it started cooling down again. Everything that could go against us did go against us.

“There was nothing more we could do. A lot of people made the effort to get here, so we thought we’d push it to the wire if we can and see what we could do.”

There were mixed outcomes from two inspections elsewhere on Monday morning, for Wednesday’s racing.

Exeter’s card was abandoned because of waterlogging, after 17mm of rain since Sunday morning.

Warwick may yet go ahead, however, as standing water receded – but the meeting will be subject to a second check at 2pm on Tuesday, with further rain forecast.

In Ireland, Tuesday’s meeting at Limerick has been called off because of waterlogging.

There will be an inspection on Tuesday morning for Thursday’s card at Wincanton, where there is standing water and further rain forecast on heavy ground.

Sedgefield faces fourth inspection

Sedgefield’s meeting on Monday hinges on a fourth inspection at the track – at 12.30pm, which was initially the scheduled time of the opening race.

The course passed an initial check on Sunday afternoon, as frozen conditions began to improve, with a second inspection announced for 830am on Monday.

That was put back by an hour and a half, however, in the hope that temperatures would continue to rise – having dipped to minus 2C overnight.

The course was still not raceable, though, and it was announced a further inspection must take place at 11.30am.

That too was inconclusive, and a Tweet on Sedgefield’s official feed read: “We’re doing everything we can to help our fixture go ahead so we’ll be having a further inspection at 12.30pm.”

The ground is described as heavy for the scheduled seven-race card.

There were mixed outcomes from two inspections elsewhere on Monday morning, for Wednesday’s racing.

Exeter’s card was abandoned because of waterlogging, after 17mm of rain since Sunday morning.

Warwick may yet go ahead, however, as standing water receded – but the meeting will be subject to a second check at 2pm on Tuesday, with further rain forecast.

In Ireland, Tuesday’s meeting at Limerick is off because of waterlogging.

There will be an inspection on Tuesday morning for Thursday’s card at Wincanton, where there is standing water and further rain forecast on heavy ground.

Sedgefield waits on mid-morning inspection

Sedgefield’s meeting on Monday hinges on a 10am inspection.

The course passed an initial check on Sunday afternoon, as frozen conditions began to improve, with a second inspection announced for 830am on Monday.

That was put back by an hour and a half, however, in the hope that temperatures will continue to rise – having dipped to minus 2C overnight.

A Tweet from the course read: “Inspection has been pushed to 10am. Temperatures are set to rise above 0 before 9am”.

The going is described as heavy for the scheduled seven-race card.

There were mixed outcomes from two inspections elsewhere on Monday morning, for Wednesday’s racing.

Exeter’s card was abandoned because of waterlogging, after 17mm of rain since Sunday morning.

Warwick may yet go ahead, however, as standing water receded – but the meeting will be subject to a second check at 2pm on Tuesday, with further rain forecast.

In Ireland, Tuesday’s meeting at Limerick is off because of waterlogging.

Waterlogging claims Cheltenham card

Cheltenham’s prestigious Trials Day meeting on Saturday has been abandoned due to waterlogging.

Officials had made people aware the meeting was in the balance due to midweek rainfall which exceeded expectations and an inspection had been called for 2pm on Friday.

An early update on Friday suggested it was touch-and-go following another wet night in the Cotswolds.

However, with standing water in places, some fences already set to be omitted and not enough space to redirect the runners around the waterlogged patches, the meeting has been called off.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: “We were always saying that we had to hope we wouldn’t get what was forecast and we’ve had what was forecast, unfortunately.

“We’re waterlogged in too many places to find a way round and there is no prospect of any improvement in the next 24 hours.”

The British Horseracing Authority later confirmed the possibility of races such as the Cotswold Chase and Cleeve Hurdle being rescheduled is under consideration, but a final decision will not be made until after the weekend.

The ruling body posted on Twitter: “We are currently considering options for restaging some of the races from the abandoned Cheltenham Festival Trials Day card.

“However, as the current picture is so changeable as regards to the continued very weather weather and which courses are going to be raceable in the coming days, it is not possible to make any definitive announcements at this stage.

“We will provide a further update after the weekend when the situation with the weather and the conditions of racecourses will be more clear.”

If there is any improvement in conditions over the next 48 hours, it will come too late to save Uttoxeter’s fixture on Sunday.

A total of 30 millimetres of rain has fallen in the past 48 hours at the venue, leaving the course waterlogged and officials with no option but to cancel following an 8am inspection on Friday.

Fairyhouse’s Saturday card is subject to a 7.30am inspection after it passed a Friday afternoon check, while Sunday’s meeting at Catterick must pass a precautionary inspection at 8am on raceday morning due to the threat of frost.

Hereford will not be racing on Monday, after the waterlogged course failed a Friday afternoon inspection.

Cheltenham’s Trials Day card hangs in balance

Hopes for Cheltenham’s Trials Day meeting on Saturday are hanging in the balance.

There is still standing water on the track, and fences will have to be bypassed if the card goes ahead.

A 2pm inspection will take place following a further 10 millimetres of rain overnight. To compound matters, a similar amount of rain is forecast this evening – some of which could also fall as snow.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said just before 10am: “I’m heading out to walk the course again now.

“It has stopped raining now, but we’ve had another three millimetres since I was on it first thing.”

If there is any improvement in conditions over the next 48 hours it will come too late to save Uttoxeter’s fixture on Sunday.

A total of 30 millimetres of rain has fallen in the past 48 hours, leaving the course waterlogged and officials with no option but to cancel following an 8am inspection on Friday.

Rain leads to inspection for Trials Day card at Cheltenham

Saturday’s high-profile fixture at Cheltenham is in doubt after officials called a precautionary inspection for 2pm on Friday.

Prestbury Park is due its usually informative Festival Trials Day – the track’s final meeting before the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse had to abandon racing on New Year’s Day because of waterlogging, and the same issue is causing concern this weekend for a card set to feature four Grade Two races – including the course’s Gold Cup trial, the Cotswold Chase.

Claisse said on Thursday morning: “The ground is currently heavy, having had 15 millimetres of rain overnight and 30 for the week so far, which exceeded what we thought we’d get before racing.

“We’re just about raceable at the moment, if we took a few fences out, but the forecast – upon which we made the judgment call this morning to hold a precautionary inspection tomorrow – has subsequently got worse.

“My levels of optimism are declining, but there’s always hope.

“We need less rain to fall than is forecast – what happens through the night will be key as to where we end up.”

Having endured freezing temperatures earlier in the week, Thursday’s Wetherby meeting was called off shortly before 8am due to waterlogging after heavy rain overnight.

As the jumps calendar suffers through the winter weather, Friday’s meeting at Huntingdon has already been abandoned, along with Sunday’s Fontwell fixture, Tuesday’s cards at Newcastle and Lingfield and Wednesday’s action at Leicester.

However, Lingfield and Newcastle will now stage jumpers’ bumpers cards in place of their planned fixtures on Monday and Tuesday respectively, while there will be an additional all-weather meeting at Wolverhampton on Sunday.

Doncaster’s two-day fixture is scheduled to begin on Friday, where clerk of the course Roderick Duncan said: “The ground is going to continue to ease. We’ve now had 11 millimetres of rain, but it’s not been raining as heavily as forecast.

“On one or two forecasts suggest there is a risk of wintry showers on Saturday morning. There’s not enough certainty for me to be over-concerned yet, and not all forecasts are saying that, but that is the only caveat at the moment.”

Blank day for British jumps cards on Wednesday

There will be no jumps racing in the UK for a second successive day after Wednesday’s meetings at Wincanton and Catterick were both abandoned.

With Kelso and Leicester’s Tuesday fixtures called off, jumping fans have been starved of action this week.

Wincanton initially inspected at 8am on Tuesday but pushed that back to 4pm as the course showed signs of improvement after a heavy covering of snow which arrived on Sunday.

However, the problem then was that thawing snow left areas of the track waterlogged.

“We held an inspection at 8am and couldn’t pass it due to a lot of snow lying, so decided to go again at 4pm,” said clerk of the course Daniel Cooper.

“We thought we’d be OK – but what has happened is the thaw has created standing water across the track, and the vulnerable areas have quite a lot. Even the areas that tend to be OK are slushy, and we can’t get through that.

“What caused the abandonment is the storing of the snow, and the snow has stayed with us a lot longer than thought. We’ve had everything thrown at us this winter.”

At Catterick, the thaw did not arrive in time – and the fixture was abandoned after a 3pm inspection.

A Tweet on the track’s official account read: “Unfortunately tomorrow’s card has been abandoned. Following 4 nights of hard frost and no improvement in conditions today the forecast slow rise in temperatures gives insufficient time for the track to be raceable.”

British jumps racing is scheduled to resume at Fakenham and Wetherby on Thursday.

But the West Yorkshire track must pass an initial inspection at 9am on Wednesday to assess the thawing of frozen areas of waterlogging in the back straight.