Wintry conditions hit horse racing fixtures in the UK

The cold winter has already hit horse racing in the UK and threatens more in the coming days.

Wintry conditions hit horse racing fixtures in the UK

The cold winter has already hit horse racing in the UK and threatens more in the coming days.

The snow has already lead to the abandonment of today's meeting at Kempton as well as offcials calling off Wednesday’s meeting at Catterick.

However, the ensuing bad weather has also put race meetings at Ayr, Cheltenham, Huntingdon, Doncaster and Exeter into doubt.

Prospects of Ayr staging the first turf meeting in Britain since last Thursday took a turn for the worse with snow now forecast.

The British Horseracing Authority put on an extra fixture at the Scottish track for Wednesday as it was thought it would escape the worst of the weather.

Until the last 24 hours there were no problems reported, but the meeting is now somewhat in the balance.

Clerk of the course Emma Marley said: “We are perfectly raceable at present. We were 1C overnight and 2C yesterday.

“However, the forecast is for light snow tonight and into tomorrow morning, one to two centimetres.

“We’ll have a better idea of our chances in the morning, but the forecast is slightly problematic.

“All we can do is wait and see as it is coming in from the east coast and it is quite heavy over there.”

Officials at Cheltenham believe the weather over the next 48 hours will be crucial as to whether their Festival Trials meeting will go ahead on Saturday.

Although the course is raceable under the protective covers, it remains very cold and more snow is forecast before a hoped-for improvement in the second half of the week.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse describes the meeting as “being in the balance” and expects a better idea of prospects by Wednesday morning.

“The course remains raceable under the covers. The temperatures are below freezing and there is a just a touch of very light snow in the air,” he said.

“There is the chance we will get further light snow tomorrow with temperatures beginning to get better by Thursday/Friday and rain on Saturday.

“I think it is still very much in the balance at this stage.

“We will remove the covers when most of the snow has thawed and that is where we need the help of not too much more snow tomorrow and milder air by the end of the week.

“I think the next crucial stage in our thinking will be after we have had the snow that’s forecast for tomorrow and tomorrow night.

“I think we will have a pretty good idea as to the way it’s heading on Wednesday morning.”

Huntingdon’s meeting on Friday is already in doubt and must pass a 9.30am inspection on Wednesday.

The track is currently covered by four inches of snow with more forecast.

To compound matters, freezing temperatures are expected overnight.

Clerk of the course Sulekha Varma said: ``We are holding a watching brief there and hope things improve in time with the meeting being on Friday.

“There is at least two to three inches of snow across the site which is enough to cause a problem.”

Officials at Doncaster have called a 10am inspection on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s meeting.

They report five inches of snow on the track ahead of their two-day fixture, which features the Sky Bet Chase on Saturday.

Snow was still falling on Monday morning with more forecast until tomorrow while daytime temperatures are expected to reach a high of 4C, but it will be below freezing overnight.

Under the snow, the going was described as good to soft, soft in places.

Exeter’s meeting on Wednesday still has “a glimmer of hope” after clerk of the course Barry Johnson called an 8am inspection for tomorrow.

The track currently has a covering of snow but a new front is forecast to move in tonight which could bring either rain, sleet or snow.

If it falls as rain, the meeting could still go ahead.

Johnson said: “We’ve got a glimmer of hope.

“We’re not too sure what’s going to fall overnight, it could easily be snow which would give us no chance, but it may be rain or sleet which would help shift the snow.

“It depends on tomorrow morning and we’ll know by 8am.”

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