Weather frustrates racing

Ludlow - frozen off today

With the current spell of frosty weather likely to run on for several more days the British Horseracing Authority and racecourses are putting in hand contingency arrangements to ensure racing continues every day.

Today's meetings at Ludlow and Leicester have already been called off, although Newcastle has passed an inspection and will go ahead. There are no problems with Kempton's all-weather card.

Prospects for jump racing tomorrow are bleak, and a decision on Wincanton's card could well be made today, as they are known to inspect at one o'clock this afternoon. Clerk of the course Barry Johnson said yesterday, "It momentarily got down to –5C on Monday night and the forecast tonight is for similar temperatures. If that's the case then we're going to be frozen solid."

It's a similar situation at Towcester where their clerk of the course, Robert Bellamy reported, "Tonight it's expected to get down to -4C. We'll assess things in the morning." Reports from Catterick and Chepstow, where racing is rescheduled for Friday, suggest that both meetings are in serious doubt.

As a result, the BHA has scheduled the first replacement fixtures in almost 12 months, with two additional all-weather fixtures announced for the weekend. There will be a meeting at Wolverhampton on Saturday afternoon, with free admission, and another new card at Kempton on Sunday. Entries for these will close at noon today. The Wolverhampton meeting will ensure that Channel 4 is able to show racing from two courses on Saturday, as they are already due to cover the Lingfield card.

In a further move to minimise any risk of freezing tracks, the two twilight cards at Wolverhampton tomorrow and Friday will be brought forward to regular afternoon slots, with the first race taking place around 2.00 pm.

It will mean a quiet start on the betting front in February for me as I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've placed a bet on all-weather racing. Let's get the south-westerly wind back to drive away the Siberian blasts!

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