Officials at Newbury will stage a precautionary inspection at 7.30am to decide whether day one of the track’s Coral Gold Cup meeting on Friday can go ahead as scheduled.
The Berkshire circuit is due to host to a quality two-day fixture, with Grade Two honours up for grabs in both the Coral Long Distance Hurdle and the John Francome Novices’ Chase on Friday’s card.
Newbury ground staff covered the entire course earlier this week in an attempt to guard against the cold snap – but while conditions were described as raceable on Thursday morning, a forecast for another night of sub-zero temperatures has prompted clerk of the course George Hill to call an early-morning check.
He said: “We got down to minus 2.8C last night, but everything is fine under the covers so far and we’re above freezing now (on Thursday morning).
“We’re due to get down minus 2C or minus 3C again tonight, so we’ve called the precautionary inspection, just to make sure we are going to be OK. Hopefully the covers will do their job and a second night of frost won’t cause us any issues.”
While keen not to look too far ahead at this stage, Hill revealed temperatures are due to plummet even further on Friday night ahead of the big day on Saturday.
He added: “The forecast is colder from Friday into Saturday – realistically, we’re looking at minus 3C to minus 5C, possibly.
“We’ll have to see what happens tonight into tomorrow and how the track reacts under the covers, and then it’s a case how quickly we can deploy the frost covers again after racing as we go into darkness and temperatures are dropping. Until that happens, it’s a bit unknown how the track will react.
"The only thing I would say is thankfully the track has got a good covering of grass on it, and it’s not like we’re in February where you’ve got watered ground and temperatures have been low for a long amount of time. It’s been relatively mild and we’ve been frost-free up until last night.
“Having fresh ground does help you out quite a bit, so fingers crossed."
It is a similar story ahead of Doncaster’s National Hunt meeting on Friday, with a precautionary inspection also set to take place at 7.30am on Town Moor.
Clerk of the course Paul Barker said: “We’d race today, but temperatures are due to drop again this evening, lower than they’ve been for the last two nights, and daytime temperatures tomorrow aren’t as warm as they are today.
“There’s a chance of wintry showers this evening, so fingers crossed we get a bit of cloud cover which will help us stay above freezing.
“We dropped just below freezing last night and tonight we’re due to get down to minus 2C and temperatures are going to struggle to get above 2C by lunchtime.
“It’s only right we look at it in the morning and see what’s happened overnight.”
A full programme of racing is set to take place on Thursday after jumps meetings at Lingfield and Taunton passed morning inspections.
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