Saturday 20 January 2018

Punchestown joins list of big-freeze casualties

Ashley Iveson

Punchestown's big meeting on Sunday, featuring the Grade One John Durkan Chase, has been postponed.

The course is currently under two feet of snow, but Horse Racing Ireland officials have moved quickly to reschedule the card for next Thursday.

Dundalk's all-weather meeting, which was due to take place this evening, has now been moved to Sunday afternoon due to concerns about safety. It is also hoped to race in Dundalk tomorrow.

Navan's meeting, originally scheduled tomorrow, has been cancelled due to a covering of snow and will now take place on December 19.

Sunday's fixture at Clonmel is also off after the track was found to be unraceable.

Officials made the decision to cancel the jumps card following a course inspection yesterday.

The situation is compounded by an unfavourable weather forecast.

The Keith Prowse Hospitality Tingle Creek Chase will now be staged at Cheltenham after tomorrow's high-profile meeting at Sandown became the latest casualty in Britain

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper had announced an inspection for 3.0 yesterday to assess the prospects for the jumps card.

But he said afterwards: "Unfortunately it hasn't improved and, if anything, it's actually marginally worse as we've had a few snow flurries.

"We have five inches of snow on the track and that is going to stay there until Saturday at least.

"It's due to warm a bit from Saturday, but everyone at the course is of the opinion that it will be soon enough."

Sandown's loss is Cheltenham's gain as the Tingle Creek will now be staged at Prestbury Park next Saturday, according to the executive at the Esher track.

David Mackinnon, managing director for Sandown, said: "The Tingle Creek meeting on the Saturday has grown in recent years and we had gathered such momentum that in 2009 our paying attendance was the highest for 10 years.

"We are devastated to have abandoned the meeting as it's a day of fantastic racing and festive entertainment.

"However we are delighted the Keith Prowse Hospitality Tingle Creek Chase has been rescheduled at Cheltenham."

With a milder forecast, the fixture lost at Exeter today has been salvaged for Sunday.

Irish Independent

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