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Oscar Whisky Ascot 24.11.12

Oscar Whisky: star hurdler is set to be in action at Cheltenham on Tuesday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Cheltenham's Tuesday card under threat

CHELTENHAM is holding an inspection on Sunday into its meeting on Tuesday, giving Channel 4 a headache with the meeting set to showcase the launch of its new presenting team led by Clare Balding.

Channel 4 was on Friday working out contingency plans should the meeting be lost, with the ground heavy and a further 27mm of rain expected before racing.

If the meeting fails Sunday's 10am inspection it would mark the loss of a valuable card including the Dipper Novices' Chase, in which Captain Conan and Unioniste are set to clash and the Centaur Hurdle likely to feature Oscar Whisky and the return to hurdles of 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up Peddlers Cross.

Channel 4 is also showing two races from Musselburgh on New Year's Day but spokeswoman Hannah Walker said it was not guaranteed it would take in extra races from there if Cheltenham was to be lost.

"We are reviewing our options," she said. "We are liaising with Cheltenham and are fully up to speed with the situation there. We are already taking two races from Musselburgh and in the past we would have taken two more races from there but at the moment nothing has been decided."

There are no concerns for Channel 4's coverage from Newbury on Saturday with the official going given as heavy, soft in places on the chase course and heavy on the hurdle course.

Clare Balding

Clare Balding: set to make her Channel 4 debut at Cheltenham

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Doncaster's card on Saturday features two races on Channel 4 and the course was confident racing would go ahead, although at least one fence on the chase course will be omitted because of waterlogging, with the runners diverted on to the hurdle track.

Clerk of the course Roderick Duncan said: "We are soft, heavy in places and raceable as we stand. The next band of rain is due at 9am tomorrow with 6mm forecast and if that is accurate we can cope."

Kelso's meeting on Saturday hinged on a 7am inspection with the track heavy, while Haydock, which is also heavy, holds an inspection at 2pm on Saturday for Sunday's meeting.

Officials at Limerick were keeping their fingers crossed Friday night's rain was just the forecast showers and no more as it scheduled an 8am inspection for the finale of its four-day meeting.

The track had passed an 8am inspection to race on Friday and gave the chasers fresh but heavy ground to race on. There is no more fresh ground to release for Saturday's two chases, but the hurdle course does have fresh ground and the Turf Club's senior inspector of courses Val O'Connell was positive about the final day going ahead.

He said: "There is a forecast for some showers and we can take that, but we couldn't take a good drop of rain."

Leopardstown escaped with only 1mm of rain on Thursday evening and racing manager Nessa Joyce was on Friday night expecting only a further 4mm before Saturday's Istabraq Festival Hurdle card. The ground was described as soft. 

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