A sign of things to come? Snow falls at Kelso on SundayPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Wintry weather set to threaten fixtures
FREEZING temperatures and wintry showers are set to threaten several meetings across Britain in the coming week, including Saturday's meetings at Ascot, Haydock and Taunton.
Meetings down the east coast are especially at risk of being snowed off, the Met Office indicated on Sunday, while on the west coast plummeting temperatures could also jeopardise fixtures, with overnight lows as cold as -6C or -7C possible in places, and temperatures of -3C to -4C widespread.
A Met Office spokesman said: "Snow is most likely tomorrow all down the eastern side of the UK, and we could see 2-5cm of snow. There could be further snow Tuesday into Wednesday along an eastern strip from Aberdeen to East Anglia.
"Further west it will be generally dry, bright and sunny, but with very frosty starts and struggling to get up to very low single figures during the day."
Ascot is due to play host to this season's star chaser Sprinter Sacre, who is 1-6 favourite for the Victor Chandler Chase, and clerk of the course Chris Stickels is anxiously awaiting what elements will be thrown at the track, which is covered in advance of below-freezing temperatures at night.
Stickels said on Sunday: "It's due to get colder, with snow possible tomorrow and into Tuesday, then cold temperatures at least until Friday.
"When you are forecast -3C consistently you are going to be a bit concerned, but it's quite hard to tell now as it seems fairly mild."
Mild is not expected to be a word on the lips of Haydock clerk Kirkland Tellwright, with the course due to receive lows down to -7C.
Haydock is slated for Channel 4 coverage, alongside Ascot, with the Peter Marsh Chase and Champion Hurdle Trial among the highlights.
Tellwright said: "We have covered the course but whether that will be sufficient, time alone will tell. There is a material risk to racing right now and we will just have to see how the week develops."
Taunton hosts its only Saturday meeting of the season, with the card being the most valuable ever staged there. Hunt Ball is expected to run in the 2m3f handicap chase.
The track was waterlogged in places on Sunday, but perhaps more of a concern will be freezing temperatures midweek. Frost covers will be deployed.
Find out what the prospects are for forthcoming fixtures in Britain and Ireland with our at-a-glance guide