Ascot main casualty as cold snap bites

ASCOT’S big double-header of racing has been snowed off as the recent cold snap hit the racing schedule.

Friday’s meeting was abandoned early in the morning, while Saturday’s valuable card, due to feature the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle, was called off at 9.30am.

Yesterday’s racing at Uttoxeter and Downpatrick survived early-morning inspections, but Saturday’s National Hunt card Newcastle has already fallen by the wayside and Haydock will inspect at 8am.

Newcastle had originally announced a 7.30am inspection today, but decided to give up the ghost at 4pm with conditions not improving.

Clerk of the course James Armstrong said: “We’ve been banging our heads against a brick wall all day really.

“Temperatures have never really risen above freezing all day apart from hitting plus one a couple of times, but it’s below freezing again now.

“The forecast says it will get to minus four overnight and some are even saying it could get down to minus six, so we need a miracle really and that’s not going to happen.”

Today’s meeting at Navan must also overcome a 7.30am inspection, while Carlisle’s meeting on Sunday has to pass a 2.30pm inspection on Saturday.

Ascot was hit with between three to four inches of overnight snow, prompting officials to move forward their proposed 8am inspection ahead of Friday’s meeting.

Although frost covers were deployed over the entirety of the track, clerk of the course Chris Stickels was soon resigned to the loss of yesterday’s card.

And while a 4pm inspection was initially called to assess prospects for Saturday, Stickels instead felt it prudent to draw stumps yesterday morning.

“There is so much snow on the track that it is going to be impossible to move it all,” he said.

“It’s obviously very disappointing as we were expecting a big crowd for what was a great card.”

Haydock officials are optimistic of passing an 8am precautionary inspection ahead of Saturday’s meeting.

Clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright said: “We would be fine today, but there is another overnight forecast of around minus three.

“There is a scattering of snow on the track, but frost is the first issue.

“At this stage, we are quietly confident of getting through this.”

Navan are also banking on a milder night ahead of today’s fixture, which is subject to a 7.30am inspection.

Cliff Noone, Turf Club press officer, said: “The forecast is for wintry, scattered showers and a severe overnight frost.

“They are currently happy with the hurdle course, but the forecast is a concern.”

Despite seeing four inches of overnight snowfall on Thursday, there are “no reported problems” for Lingfield’s all-weather meeting on Saturday. Carlisle, where racing is scheduled on Sunday, is currently 70% frozen after overnight temperatures plummeted to around minus four degrees. A similar forecast has been predicted for Friday night, which has provoked a 2.30pm inspection on Saturday.


Louisa Earls is a manager at Books Upstairs, D’Olier St, Dublin, which is owned by her father, Maurice Earls.Virus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

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