Thursday 22 March 2018

No panic at Cheltenham as 'Beast from the East' claims numerous UK fixtures

An aerial view of the famous horse racetrack (Cheltenham Racecourse) at Cheltenham, England.
An aerial view of the famous horse racetrack (Cheltenham Racecourse) at Cheltenham, England.

This afternoon's meeting at Catterick has been abandoned due to snow, but racing goes ahead as planned at Chelmsford.

Catterick clerk of the course Fiona Needham was due to inspect at 8am but brought forward that check to just before 7am.

She said: "We've had about five centimetres of snow and there is more forecast so it is not going to go away.

"With the temperature as it is and more snow expected, it was an easy decision."

Officials at Chelmsford had called a precautionary check for 8am ahead of their all-weather fixture.

They also took an early look at conditions and while they report an amber warning has been issued for "eight to 10 miles away", they were happy to give racing the green light.

Musselburgh then became the latest victim of the "Beast from the East" as Wednesday's meeting at the venue was abandoned.

Clerk of the course Harriet Graham was due to inspect the track at 8.30am, but she made an early call as the track is frozen.

She tweeted: "Racing abandoned. Freezing temperatures with no prospects to rise above freezing tomorrow."

The latest cancellations mean there will be no jumping action in Britain until Thursday at the earliest.

Racing is scheduled for Ludlow that day, but Taunton has already been called off.

Officials at Ludlow are planning to assess the chances of racing going ahead on Tuesday morning, but admit they are "not optimistic" with snow anticipated.

While the immediate racing action is affected by the cold snap, Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse is feeling upbeat with the Festival due to kick off in two weeks' time.

He is expecting cold conditions at Prestbury Park in the coming days, but reports the long-range forecast to be favourable at this stage.

He told Racing UK: "Undoubtedly this cold spell of weather that's coming from the east is heading our way.

"Temperatures have been down to minus 5C so far on the track this week, we expect those to go down to minus 7C or minus 8C. We've not covered the course because there's some significant snowfall forecast on Thursday and Friday.

"Beyond that, it's looking as though the weather will turn considerably less cold, with rain coming in possibly Sunday or Monday next week with temperatures slowly going upwards.

"It's a long way off at the moment, but there are some strong signals that come a fortnight at the beginning of the Festival, we will be into a mild airflow."

Online Editors

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