Fairyhouse officials look at back-up plan
WITH the Arctic conditions continuing to prevail, the triple-Grade One fixture at Fairyhouse next Wednesday is subject to an inspection on Monday, when track officials will announce a contingency plan if the meeting is cancelled.
The current date is the third assigned to the fixture, which has now been twice delayed by the weather.
Three Grade One races -- the Hatton's Grace Hurdle, the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and the Drinmore Novice Chase -- feature on a card that was originally due to be held on Sunday, November 28.
Not even Lingfield's all-weather track could withstand the freeze yesterday as inspections and abandonments are set to continue well into the coming week.
There has been no jump racing in England since last Saturday and the only hopes for any materialising tomorrow lie with Exeter and Warwick, which are still frozen in places.
Lingfield was set to go ahead after passing an early check, but the temperature dropped alarmingly and the track was found to be unsafe.
Clerk of the course Neil MacKenzie Ross said: "After the inspection, the temperature dropped to minus 12.6c. Balls of ice were forming on the track and that is not safe. I apologise to everybody who made the journey."
Temperatures are forecast above freezing in the Lingfield area ahead of their next scheduled meeting tomorrow, but Mackenzie Ross will further assess conditions today. Southwell, Kempton and Wolverhampton fly the flag today with Wetherby, Sandown and Chepstow early to admit defeat.
Warwick's clerk of the course Andrew Morris is relying on a check this afternoon to see if tomorrow's fixture is to be given a chance. Bangor joined Musselburgh in calling off their meeting on Monday, leaving only the all-weather fare.
The only chance of jumping on Tuesday is at Fontwell. The Sussex track's representative Ed Arkell announced an inspection for tomorrow. "We currently have six inches of snow on the track, but it's a bright sunny day this afternoon," he said.
Cheltenham are keeping their fingers crossed that they will be able to race next weekend when Saturday's Stan James International Hurdle should prove a very informative contest.
Last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle Menorah was rubber-stamped for this as soon as he defied a big weight in the Greatwood Hurdle on his return. But adding significant spice to the mix is Colin Tizzard's plan to run Cue Card.
The four-year-old was sensational in winning the Champion Bumper in March as a 40/1 chance and has taken to hurdles with the minimum of fuss, taking two from two without coming near to being extended.
But he is stepping into a different league here. If he can do it he will blow an already-exciting Champion Hurdle picture well and truly wide open after Binocular's recent Newbury eclipse, while a late addition to the programme is the Tingle Creek Chase, switched after Sandown was abandoned.
With the Unicoin Homes Relkeel Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on the undercard, this is a few hours not to be missed. It's pretty classy Cheltenham fare on Friday, too, with a Listed event worth £40,000 in added prize money, the star turn.