Cheltenham consider Sunday switch

  • Last Updated: January 22 2013, 17:55 GMT

Cheltenham's big Festival Trials Day on Saturday could be run 24 hours later if the meeting is abandoned.

Cheltenham: Overnight snow key to Saturday prospects

Groundstaff have been working overtime to shift the snow which fell on top of the frost sheets, which has given course officials renewed hope of the fixture going ahead.

However, more snow is forecast on Tuesday evening, which would once again put the meeting in doubt.

Cheltenham is, however, continuing to liaise with Channel 4 about the prospect of televising the meeting if it is rescheduled for Sunday.

A statement issued on behalf of Cheltenham read: "Cheltenham racecourse is due to stage Festival Trials Day this Saturday and, as a result of the hard work of the groundstaff in removing snow lying on the frost covers today, there is increased hope that the meeting can go ahead as scheduled on Saturday.

"However, a further one to two centimetres of snow is forecast to fall tonight and, in the event that the course is unraceable, Cheltenham has reached agreement with the British Horseracing Authority that, weather permitting, Festival Trials Day could instead be staged 24 hours later on Sunday, January 27.

"Cheltenham is continuing to liaise with Channel 4 as to the possibility of Festival Trials Day being broadcast on the channel on Sunday, should the eight-race card be moved to that date."

Hopes for a return to jumps racing before the weekend was nonetheless given a cold, sharp shock as the freezing weather continues to bite.

While the winter has released its grip ever so slightly to allow Flat racing on an artificial surface to get the show back on the road at Lingfield and Wolverhampton, the turf is still having a tough time.

Ayr was quick to snap up an additional jumps fixture but the threat of frost hangs over the Scottish track, with a precautionary inspection called for 7.30am ahead of Wednesday's meeting.

Officials at Exeter had to call time on Wednesday's meeting following a second inspection at lunchtime.

Kempton's all-weather meeting on Wednesday is subject to a 10am inspection, while Lingfield's programme on the same day needs to survive a 7am inspection.

Wednesday's card at Limerick also hinges on a precautionary inspection at 8am, while Thursday's meeting at Fakenham has already been abandoned due to snow.

Clerk of the course David Hunter inspected the track at noon on Tuesday but was forced to admit defeat.

Hunter said: "There's been a little movement on the snow, but we've still got three inches of snow on the course.

"The temperature peaked at minus 11C last night, much against the forecast."

No problems are reported at Gowran on Thursday where the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase is the feature event.

Prospects for Doncaster's feature meeting of the season taking place on Saturday have taken a turn for the worse.

Officials at the track sounded upbeat on Monday about the chances of an improvement in the weather coming in time to save Saturday's card, although Friday's meeting is already subject to a 10am inspection on Wednesday.

However, the forecast has now changed and confidence has dipped.

The BHA has already taken measures in case there is another weekend wipeout.

A "jumpers' bumpers" card has been scheduled at Kempton on Friday, while Wolverhampton will stage an additional all-weather Flat fixture on Saturday.

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