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Cheltenham frost covers

Cheltenham: mixed views on course about whether card should go ahead

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker/  

Opinions split as Cheltenham beats frost

TODAY'S high-class card at Cheltenham has survived temperatures of -7C, but although the go-ahead has been given for racing to take place, not everyone is happy with the decision.

After overnight conditions far more severe than had been anticipated, an inspection took place at 10am after which a further check was called for 11.30am.

However, this was completed soon after 11am with the majority of those who walked on the track reporting themselves satisfied with the state of the racing surface, which had been protected through the night with frost covers.

Stipendiary steward Colin Vickers said: "A delegation of jockeys and trainers accompanied by a course inspector and a veterinary officer inspected the track. We then convened together with the clerk of the course, a member of the groundstaff  and a representative of the racecourse executive and everyone was satisfied that it was safe to go ahead.

Tony McCoy and Barry Geraghty also attended the meeting and wanted to race. They were satisfied that their views were representative of their colleagues in the weighing room.

Confirming his own desire to race, McCoy said: "It's okay. The sun is out and it's like summertime out there."

Trainers Jonjo O'Neill and Bob Buckler were firmly behind the decision to race, but former champion jockey John Francome, on course for Channel 4, said: "When I walked the track there were lumps and it wasn't remotely raceable. If you're a jockey, you're paid to ride so you ride, but it's the horses you worry about."

John Francome

John Francome: against decision

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Also critical of the decision, jockey Warren Marston said: "I'm surprised it's on, but there you go. I thought there were areas of concern, but other people are paid to make these decisions."

As an inspection took place, trainers will be allowed to withdraw horses without being fined.

The seven-race card will begin at 12.30 with live coverage on Channel 4 starting at 1.40pm.

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