Doncaster, Sedgefield, Uttoxeter off

  • Last Updated: January 24 2013, 14:08 GMT

Officials at Cheltenham are "extremely hopeful" Saturday's Trials Day meeting will go ahead as planned.

Simon Claisse is hopeful Cheltenham will be on

Staff at Prestbury Park have been battling the elements all week as they try to get the track ready for a meeting which is set to feature the likes of Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth.

While the track has been covered for over a week to guard against frost, snow earlier this week looked problematic as it was lying on top of the covers.

However, clerk of the course Simon Claisse and his team have been working to remove the snow. And while an 8am inspection is still planned for Friday, officials are optimistic about their chances of racing.

Should the track not be fit on Saturday, Cheltenham also has the option of delaying the meeting by 24 hours to Sunday.

Cheltenham communications manager Andy Clifton said on Thursday morning: "There's been a mammoth effort from the ground staff and the maintenance teams over the last couple of days to clear the covers.

"I think they have cleared around a third of the snow from the track and most of the remainder will be removed today.

"We are forecast frost tonight, with temperatures set to drop to minus 4C, but once that's cleared in the morning, we will take the covers off tomorrow afternoon.

"There's a bit of snow forecast on Friday evening followed by rain but with temperatures above freezing so that is not a worry, as things stand.

"It's soft ground but we can take some rain and as the snow has been largely cleared off the covers, it will not be melting onto the track.

"We will hold the inspection at 8am on Friday as planned, and at that point we expect to be able to give the go-ahead for Saturday.

"However, having come this far, we will retain the option of racing on Sunday and have declarations for that ghost card, as it is. We are extremely hopeful of racing going ahead as planned on Saturday, though."

The situation was not the same at Doncaster though and with the Friday card having already been abandoned, Saturday's meeting - set to feature the Sky Bet Chase - was also called off after a 2pm inspection on Thursday.

Clerk of the course Roderick Duncan was left with little choice but to admit defeat with snow still covering the track and no substantial thaw in sight.

Uttoxeter's card has been considered unlikely to go ahead all week and that was confirmed when the meeting was abandoned on Thursday.

Clerk of the course Charlie Moore reports the track to be unraceable due to frost and snow and admits the situation is hopeless.

He said: "We've had to let it go. We have still got two inches of snow on the track with a hard frost forecast for tonight.

"There is not sufficient warmth and moisture in the forecast before Saturday as the forecast rain will come too late.

"Even if it did come in time, we could then end up waterlogged."

Flat racing on an artificial surface has been getting back to normal this week and Ayr managed to get the show on turf back on the road on Wednesday - but it was a close call with three inspections needed before it went ahead.

Thursday is a blank day over jumps racing in Britain, but Ireland fly the flag at Gowran Park with the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase taking centre stage.

Saturday is the earliest day for another resumption as Huntingdon has called off its Friday card due to snow.

Clerk of the course Sulekha Varma tweeted: "Three inches of snow still on track and no prospect of sufficient thaw."

Sedgefield were forced to abandoned Sunday's card ahead of a scheduled inspection on Friday afternoon.

Clerk of the course Phil Tuck was due to inspect the track at 2pm on Thursday but was able to make an earlier call as there is no prospect of sufficient improvement in conditions.

He said: "It's not improved at all and it's a hopeless case really.

"We are forecast minus 4C tonight and although it stayed above freezing last night, there is so much snow on the track it made no difference.

"We are forecast more snow on Friday and there is no chance of it improving."

Meanwhile, the British Horseracing Authority has programmed a card of 'jumpers' bumpers' to take place at Wolverhampton on Sunday. All races for the seven-race card to close on Thursday and declarations to be made by 10am on Friday.


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