Greyhound: Cold snap playing havoc with training schedules
These are not good times for greyhound followers with not a single meeting staged in 2010, and signs are there won't be a meeting until next Friday at the earliest.
Following another day of frost and snow, allied to a dreadful forecast for the next three days, the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) announced yesterday evening that the tracks which they operate will remain closed until next Friday.
The plan is that Harold's Cross alone of the IGB tracks will resume next Friday while the remaining tracks will follow on Saturday -- weather permitting.
This block coverage does not apply to the privately owned tracks, but it is unlikely that any of these will open before next weekend.
There hasn't been a meeting in this country since Kilkenny on December 30 and the continued closure is causing huge problems for all elements of the industry.
A major reshuffle of the early season calendar will be on the cards if the cold spell continues past next weekend, while trainers face huge problems in trying to keep their charges fit for the return to action.
The first round of the John J Casey Open 575 at Shelbourne Park has been twice postponed and one assumes it will now go ahead next weekend. But will the 42 contenders be sufficiently fit to take their place after such a lengthy break?
The problem with greyhounds is probably even more severe than with horses. Most horse trainers have an all-weather gallop, which they can use to keep their charges ticking over, but that is not a facility enjoyed by most greyhound trainers.
Dogs that have not been galloped for a few weeks would not be sufficiently fit to return to action overnight in the event of a sudden thaw.
Eddie Anderson, manager at Clonmel, has admitted he may have to reshuffle plans for the forthcoming National Meeting Festival of racing at the track.
He has a large number of sweepstakes scheduled to provide five successive nights of top-class racing. But if the big freeze persists beyond next weekend, he will be forced to reduce the number of runners in these competitions and some dogs will face the possibility of racing a few times in quick succession.
It would be far from ideal but a ready solution to a thorny problem.