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Thursday, February 09, 2012
Nicky Henderson declared himself pleased with conditions after walking the course at Newbury ahead of this weekend’s highly-anticipated fixture.
The ’Betfair Super Saturday’ card promises to be vital for the Seven Barrows handler if it does survive the freezing temperatures, with his Gold Cup hero Long Run and exciting novice Sprinter Sacre both set for their final prep runs for Cheltenham.
With the course having been covered for over a week, the meeting faces a better chance than most of going ahead and Henderson was happy with what he saw when checking the ground yesterday, in company with champion jockey Tony McCoy.
He said: "AP and I both walked round the track this morning and we’re happy.
"They’ve done a great job of covering and I don’t envy the job of taking the covers off!
"The course looks in great nick and to be fair you could race on the Flat track today, which is not covered, it’s that good and there is a nice strip of new ground on both the hurdle and chase courses.
"We’ve just got to pray the elements will be kind to us but you would say as of today that the going is good to soft all the way round and no worse.
"We’ve been starved of racing this week and we’re really looking forward to getting going again."
The Berkshire track was hit by yet another night of frost on Tuesday, but clerk of the course Richard Osgood is pleased the fleece frost covers appear to be doing their job and is expecting a rise in temperatures between now and Saturday.
"It would probably have been OK for today, it would have been touch and go but I think we would have been all right," said Osgood.
"That is the last of the real low frosts, from now on they are talking about minus 1C which shouldn’t be so severe.
Musselburgh will host a re-staged Trials Day meeting on Saturday after last Sunday’s card was frozen off.
Managing director Bill Farnsworth said: "We had a minus 2C frost last night, which was a bit colder than we had anticipated, but that should be the end of the frost for us.
"Temperatures could be 3C during the night tonight and then 6C or 7C during the day on Thursday.
"We’re forecast some light persistent rain, which shouldn’t amount to too much.
"Basically we’re forecast three and a half days of temperatures not getting down to zero, so if that is correct, we’ll be racing.
"We’ve put a bit more money into the Scottish County Hurdle, the Scottish Triumph Hurdle and the novice chase, so we have total prize-money of £81,000 now."
The picture elsewhere for National Hunt fare is less positive, however. No jumps action has taken place since Ayr beat the elements on Monday and there is unlikely to be much change on that score before the weekend.
The all-weather fixture at Wolverhampton will be the sole British meeting on Thursday after both Huntingdon and Taunton failed inspections, with Doncaster having already been abandoned.
Not even the use of frost covers could save Taunton.
Officials at Bangor and Kempton will stage 8am inspections on Thursday to assess the prospects of racing over obstacles the following day, but neither camp are optimistic at this stage.
Kempton have already made provisions to stage a ’jumpers’ bumper’ card on Friday if the turf meeting falls.
Saturday’s cards at Uttoxeter and Warwick are already in serious doubt, with inspections called for 1.30pm and 2pm respectively on Thursday.
Additional fixtures have been announced by the British Horseracing Authority for Kempton on the all-weather on Saturday afternoon, and a ’jumpers’ bumper’ card at Southwell on Sunday.
* Roger Varian’s ante-post favourite Eton Forever features among 97 initial entries for the William Hill Lincoln at Doncaster on March 31.
The historic handicap is the traditional curtain-raiser to the Flat season and Eton Forever showed a liking for Town Moor when running away with the Spring Mile, a consolation race for the Lincoln, on the same card last year.
William Hill Lincoln, sponsors bet: 10-1 Eton Forever, 11-1 Primaeval, 12-1 Man Of Action, Start Right, 14-1 Edinburgh Knight, Fury, Robemaker, 16-1 Sweet Lightning, Penitent, Hawkeyethenoo, Smarty Socks, Take It To The Max, Askaud, Mull Of Killough, Dubawi Sound, Voodoo Prince, Glor Na Mara, Font Of Wisdom, 20-1 bar.
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