No grounds for concern at Kempton

  • Last Updated: December 23 2013, 17:31 GMT

Conditions were easing at Kempton after rain arrived on Monday ahead of the two-day Winter Festival featuring the William Hill King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Barney Clifford: Kempton clerk of the course
Barney Clifford: Kempton clerk of the course

The going at the Sunbury venue was described as good to soft, soft in places on a day expected to be the worst before the prestigious fixture gets under way on Thursday.

"We've been forecast up to an inch of rain today (Monday), but up to early afternoon we'd only had a couple of millimetres," said racing director and clerk of the course Barney Clifford.

"Everything is fine and we'll see when this rain stops tonight.

"Today is the windiest day, I think, and then it should settle down with sunny periods, possibly with the risk of a shower, over the next three days and turning wet again on Friday.

"We'll just have to see how much we get, but the ground walked extremely well this morning."

Officials at Wetherby anticipate no problems ahead of a two-day Christmas fixture.

"The ground was good to soft on Monday morning but we've had rain since just after 10am so it has been easing," said clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson.

"The forecast was for rain to remain with us for most of the day, but tomorrow and up to Boxing Day is going to be OK with maybe a bit more rain on Friday."

Fontwell, which is close to the West Sussex coast, already has ground on the heavy side and is taking quite a deluge.

"We were raceable this morning but we've had 11mm by this evening and the worst is to come," said clerk of the course Ed Arkell.

"We'll just have to see what we get tonight and then we'll work out what we'll do tomorrow."

Wincanton is another track due to race on Boxing Day, and clerk of the course Barry Johnson said: "The rain is just starting to clear away now, but we have another band of rain coming in tonight.

"Hopefully it is due to clear away again in the morning, so we'll see what happens.

"We'll see how much rain we get tonight and go from there."

The weather has been pretty rough in Wales, where Ffos Las has been taking the brunt of the storm and an inspection has been called for 8am on Tuesday ahead of the Boxing Day programme.

The going at the track is currently heavy and with more rain forecast, general manager Tim Long feels it prudent to check the situation on Christmas Eve.

He said: "We have had a fair drop of rain this morning and I've just checked the forecast again and it is due to be with us for most of the day.

"We will have a look at 8am tomorrow on the back of what we have today and what the forecast is like and take a view from there."

The going was described as heavy at Chepstow where the Coral Welsh National is scheduled for Saturday.

Up to 35mm of rain was forecast on Monday before better weather sets in until Friday when rain returns, with just a light shower predicted for raceday.

The going is soft across the Irish Sea where four days of high-class racing will be staged at Leopardstown.

Conditions were described as soft on both the chase and hurdle tracks at the Dublin venue following eight millimetres of rain on Sunday night.

The weather was forecast to calm down on Tuesday with a likelihood of a clear, dry day on Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day, the first day of the festival.

"We've probably come through a bit of a turbulent time, weather-wise. We've come out of it well and are happy how we've coped with it," said Ness Joyce, racing and operations manager.

"Things are going very well. We came in with a great set-up with the ground because we hadn't had any rain for a long time.

"We've seen no damage with the wind, it's been more of an inconvenience than anything else. The stormy weather should ease off tomorrow with Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day decent enough dry days.

"There is, though, poor weather coming in on St Stephen's Night. That is the one we are probably looking at more closely than anything else at the moment. At the moment the weather is very changeable."

Everything is looking good at Limerick, which races the same four days, with the track taking the rain extremely well.

"Our going is soft, soft to heavy in places. We've had some rain the past couple of days but it's been dry today," said clerk of the course Val O'Connell.

"We are due a little rain maybe on Tuesday, but not too bad after that. Everything should be OK.

"The track is in great shape. It looks very well and we are looking forward to a good meeting."

Expectation is also high at Down Royal for its St Stephen's fixture.

"The going is soft, yielding to soft in places. We had a belt of heavy rain through this morning, but it's drying up," said general manager Mike Todd.

"We're expecting a couple of showers later on but it's actually forecast to be dry on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

"Everything's looking good. We've got a super hunter chase with Salsify, who won the Foxhunter at Cheltenham in the spring, runs against Tammys Hill, who won the race last year (from Salsify), and Joncol, who's having his first run in a hunter chase."

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