Weather likely to fell jumpers

There appears to be little light at the end of the tunnel across the water for National Hunt enthusiasts with another two of next week's meetings already abandoned.

Last Sunday's meeting at Plumpton was the last turf fixture to be held in Britain and with the cold snap showing no signs of ending, it may be another week before the jumpers are back in action on turf.

Monday meetings at Ayr and Taunton fell by the wayside earlier in the week and Tuesday's action is heading the same way with Newcastle having made an early decision to abandon and Leicester checking later today.

Newcastle's clerk of the course, James Armstrong, said: "It's still minus 6C and, with the temperature as it is, the snow is likely to take a good week to thaw.


"We're going to have to hope for a good thaw with a drying wind next week if we are to race on January 20."

Leicester's clerk of the course, Jimmy Stevenson, added: "We have around two inches of snow on the track and everything is frozen solid. We're still below freezing here now so we'll see what the situation is on Saturday."

The picture is no brighter on Wednesday with Kelso officials calling off their fixture and Doncaster's clerk of the course, David Williams, pessimistic ahead of a 12pm inspection on Monday.

Kelso head groundsman Brian Meikle said: "We had another two inches of snow last night on top of the 16 inches that were already there and temperatures dipped down to minus 12C.

"We were going to wait until Monday to make a decision but there just isn't any point as there is no chance of racing."

Williams added: "The immediate forecast in the next five days is for minus 6C to minus 7C each night, with temperatures barely rising above freezing. It's looking pretty bleak at the moment."

Catterick's meeting on Thursday is subject to a 12 noon inspection on Monday due to snow.

Clerk of the course Fiona Needham said: "It can't be a surprise to anyone that we are inspecting already.

"We've got about eight inches of snow on the track and because of the temperatures it is just not shifting.

"If something miraculous happens this weekend then we'll keep going, but it's not looking good."

The British Horseracing Authority have again stepped in to try to lessen the blow by adding further all-weather meetings next week.

Lingfield have been given an additional fixture on Thursday, January 14, while Southwell will now race the following day.

Horse Racing Ireland officials have acted quickly to transfer Sunday's abandoned Leopardstown meeting to Saturday, January 23.

The meeting at Navan which was originally scheduled for this date will transfer to Wednesday, January 27.

The MCR Group Handicap Hurdle meeting, which was scheduled for tomorrow, has been refixed for this day fortnight and will be televised live by RTE, along with the following afternoon's Toshiba Irish Champion Hurdle card.

HRI also confirmed that the card which was scheduled for Punchestown today has been switched to January 20.

Between them, the televised meetings at Leopardstown should allow some high-profile horses, such as the Willie Mullins-trained Mikael D'Haguenet and Cousin Vinny, fresh opportunities to prepare for Cheltenham.