Four races set for Christmas Eve inspections

The cold snap continues to threaten the Stephen's Day action with four of the six National Hunt meetings already subject to Christmas Eve inspections.

Towcester's Christmas card fell today, and while temperatures across the country are set to rise from tomorrow onwards, there is a general feeling that the damage may already have been done with many courses currently covered in snow.

That is certainly the case at Sedgefield who will be the first to take a look at conditions at 11am.

Clerk of the course Charlie Moore said: "The snow is moving a little bit, but not much, and it is forecast to get warmer, but not a lot.

"Tomorrow could be warmer than today and there is a chance of a band of rain moving in which would help us a bit.

"If the rain did arrive there is no chance of us waterlogging as the track hasn't seen any rain for a week so we could cope with that.

"The ground would be heavy, but we'd cope."

It is a similar situation further down the A1 at Wetherby, who need conditions to improve if they are going to pass a 2pm Thursday inspection.

Clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson said: "Over the past 12 hours I would say we have had around a 1% improvement.

"It only actually got down to 3C during the night but it was down to minus 3C at daybreak.

"It's a nice, sunny day today but there isn't enough heat in it to be moving the snow and we are still totally unraceable.

"If we're the same as we are today then I think we're going to struggle, but if there is some improvement, we can decide if we're going to inspect again on Saturday morning."

Market Rasen will also check at 2pm and with four inches of snow laying on the track, clerk of the course Nick Patton is not optimistic.

"We're still covered with snow and temperatures at the moment are about half a degree below freezing," said Patton.

"The forecast for tonight is for a band of either rain, sleet or snow so we'll just see how things are looking tomorrow.

"At the moment, though, things are looking bleak."

The situation at Huntingdon is slightly different as frost more than snow has prompted a 3pm inspection on Thursday.

Clerk of the course Andrew Morris said: "We are still frozen in places and we have some snow on the track, but where we have it there is only an inch at the most.

"The forecast does give us some encouragement as we may get some rain this evening and temperatures are only due to drop to zero overnight.

"After that temperatures are due to rise but there is still some doubt whether they are going to rise enough.

"We can measure our progress tomorrow and take it from there."

There are no problems anticipated ahead of the King George meeting at Kempton, with the frost covers seemingly doing their job.

Clerk of the course Barney Clifford said: "If we were racing today we'd fall into the same trap as Haydock on Saturday that if we lifted the covers they would freeze behind us, so it's a good job they are in place.

"Looking ahead, the temperatures are due to rise from tonight and over the next three or four days.

"It's perfectly raceable under the covers, they keep the ground temperature high."

Officials at Wincanton are also optimistic and clerk of the course Barry Johnson currently has no plans to stage an inspection.

"We are looking a lot better than we were and at the moment we are 80% raceable and 20% frozen," said Johnson.

"It is pouring with rain at the moment and it's plus three of four degrees, so it the forecast is correct, we should be fine."

There are no problems anticipated at the only British all-weather fixture at Wolverhampton.

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