Hopes high for weekend cards
An improved weather forecast for the weekend compared to a few days ago has heightened optimism that racing at courses across the country will go ahead.
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Officials at Cheltenham have in particular been cheered by the revised forecast of milder weather arriving ahead of the two-day International meeting on Friday and Saturday.
While overnight frosts are expected early in the week, temperatures are set to rise early overnight on Thursday and bringing rain on Friday morning.
"The course has dried out a little bit. We are still soft, good to soft in places on the chase, hurdle and cross-country courses," said clerk of the course Simon Claisse.
"The chase and hurdle courses are covered and the vulnerable parts of the cross-country course are covered as well because we are expecting sub-zero temperatures Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday down to about minus 5C/6C.
"The forecast now is for very little frost on Thursday night and some heavy rainfall early on Friday morning.
"Our forecast temperature on the ground on Friday morning is set to be minus 1C, but we could get 10 to 12millimetres of rain through the wee small hours of Friday morning and then it should be dry for racing.
"There is no frost forecast Friday night into Saturday, with temperatures of 5C or 6C with a few showers.
"It is certainly an improved outlook compared to what we were studying on Friday and Saturday."
No problems are expected at Doncaster for their Saturday card.
Temperatures are set to drop Tuesday and Wednesday bringing overnight frosts but rain is forecast later in the week.
"It looks like we are getting a bit of rain now on Thursday and Friday with a couple of overnight frosts before that and then picking up," said clerk of the course Roderick Duncan.
"We are of the opinion now that we won't need to put the covers out as it handicaps the rain. We think it's safe not to cover at the moment."
The going is described as good, good to soft in places.
It will be a poignant day at Hereford on Sunday when the track stages its final meeting before closing its doors for what is set to be the last time.
Clerk of the course Keith Ottesen is trying to approach the fixture just as he would another meeting although he appreciates what it will mean to everyone involved there, from staff to regular racegoers.
"I have to treat it as any other day. We're racing and that's important," he said.
"It's poignant in terms of the people who have been coming to Hereford for many years, for the people who work there on raceday, the guys who work for me whose jobs we have been able to save mainly in some form or another.
"It's not something we are looking forward to doing. From my point of view as one of the guys on the ground doing the work, we are not looking forward to closing the course, but we must treat this as another raceday.
"First of all we have to get it on, so we need a bit of help from the weather, but the forecast looks better than it did a couple of days ago.
"The going is soft. It's going to get cold from Monday night into Tuesday morning, but is due to get a little milder after Thursday night for Friday morning.
"We normally have a good entry and there's plenty there. Hopefully the weather will be with us and we can race, that's the main thing.
"It looks like being wet on Friday and warming up which will get rid of any frost with daytime temperatures of between 6C and 8C on Saturday and Sunday.
"If that is the case we should be fine."
Quantity rather than quality is the order when racing returns to Wolverhampton, closed since December 4 to allow remedial work on the well-used artificial surface. The Dunstall Park venue swings back into action on Friday with a twilight meeting but that is quickly followed by a mammoth 14-race card on Saturday.
They have added a fixture originally meant for Southwell on top of one of their own.
A total of 329 entries have been received for the record-breaking programme that is due to start to 2.05pm with a 9.20pm finish.