Kempton ‘50-50’ but hopes rising

THE persistent cold spell has already eaten into the Christmas programme but officials at Kempton remain hopeful about their prospects of staging the prestigious William Hill King George VI Chase meeting Sunday.

The meetings at Market Rasen and Towcester have already gone, inspections have been called at Wetherby, Wincanton and Huntingdon, although Fontwell are upbeat.

There was a noticeable improvement in conditions at Kempton yesterday and while clerk of the course Barney Clifford describes the chances of racing on Sunday as “50-50” he said they would pull out all the stops to try to ensure the meeting goes ahead as scheduled.

“We’ve had a good thaw here. There’s still a couple of centimetres of snow on the track, but you can see the black covers poking through in areas which is encouraging,” he said.

“We never got above 2C over the last 36 hours so it’s encouraging to see seven centimetres of snow disappear.

“We’ve still got a way to go. We’ve got a couple of minus figures forecast the next couple of nights, so we’ll monitor the situation on a daily basis.

“One would have to be optimistic. It’s a 50-50 call, but we’ll do everything in our power to try to get it on.

“We’ll see what the forecast says. It has been quite volatile over the last three weeks or so and we’ll just see what it brings.”

Wetherby’s meeting on Sunday is in doubt with officials staging a 1.30pm inspection on Thursday.

The West Yorkshire track is due to play host to the valuable coral.co.uk Rowland Meyrick Chase, but the chances of racing going ahead look very doubtful with the course currently frozen under the protective covers.

“Through Sunday night and Monday night it was minus 10C all night long and last night it was minus 9C until midnight before warming up to minus 2C at daybreak,” said clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson.

“We’ve decided to hold an inspection on Thursday because the forecast is not looking overly good for Christmas Eve.

“I’ve had a walk around the track this afternoon and some areas are actually worse than I expected them to be.

“We’ll take a look and see where we are. If the forecast is improving we’ll have a look again the next day, or go to Boxing Day.”

Officials at Wincanton will stage an 8am inspection today to assess prospects for their card.

The course is currently covered in five inches of snow and with temperatures not forecast to rise dramatically, clerk of the course Barry Johnson is pessimistic.

“It’s not looking good as there is not really any sign that the snow is going to thaw much before Sunday,” said Johnson.

“There is no point prolonging things. We’ll speak to the forecasters again Thursday morning, and if they give us a glimmer of hope, we’ll sit tight.”

ON/OFF

SUNDAY

Down Royal – postponed

Huntingdon - inspection noon (Friday)

Leopardstown - abandoned (Rescheduled for Thurs Dec 30)

Limerick - abandoned

Market Rasen - abandoned

Towcester - abandoned

Wetherby - inspection 1.30 today

Wincanton - inspection 8am today

MONDAY

Chepstow - inspection noon today.

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