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Aerial view of Sandown racecourse

Sandown: has been completely covered in an attempt to beat the frost

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Cold snap set to continue

SATURDAY'S televised jumps meetings at Sandown and Wincanton hinge on the outcome of morning inspections but the prospects of racing going ahead was looking better on Friday afternoon than earlier in the week.

The ground at Sandown was described as good, good to soft in places on the hurdles course and good, good to firm in places on the chase course on Friday afternoon and clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: "We have completely covered the course. Tonight it is forecast to get down to between -2C and -4C.

"Tomorrow will be cold, it will be no more than 2C, but with the protection we have got one would be optimistic."

Andrew Cooper - clerk of the course at Sandown and Epsom

Andrew Cooper: 'optimistic'

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Temperatures are expected to dip to -3C at Wincanton on Friday night, and clerk of the course Barry Johnson, who will take a further look at the track at 8.30am on Saturday after an inspection early on Friday, said: "We are raceable today, but the one down side is that it could get to as low as -3C overnight.

"We will give it our best shot in getting the meeting on."

A met office spokeswoman said on Friday that the cold snap is set to continue with conditions in the south in particular expected to be bracing.

"Overnight most places will be below freezing and it could hit -6C in some rural areas in the south west. There will be a frosty start to the day and the maximum temperatures anywhere will be 4C," she said.

"In the north there could be a bit of sleet and snow by the end of the weekend and the cold weather will continue into next week."

Like Sandown, Plumpton, who are due to race on Sunday, covered the entire track in frost covers on Friday afternoon.

Chief executive Claire Sheppard said: "Sunday's raceday is a popular one with racegoers and our most valuable of the year, highlighted by the Sky Bet Sussex National. With the cold forecast for the weekend, we believe the meeting would be in jeopardy without the covers. We are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure racing goes ahead." 

Freezing conditions at Taunton have resulted in officials deciding to call an inspection for Monday's meeting at 9am on Sunday, while Ludlow will decide on Sunday if they need to take a look.  

At 5.37pm on Friday on Betfair's 'will racing go ahead' markets Yes at Sandown was available to back at 1.14, while No was 4.

The prices were much closer for Wincanton and Taunton. At Wincanton Yes is avaliable a 1.56 while No is favourite at 1.51 and at Taunton the Yes and No markets were locked at 1.1.

The threat of further abandonments next week has resulted in two extra all-weather being scheduled for the start of the week.

Lingfield will stage a six-race card on Monday, while Kempton, who have already been added to Saturday's roster, will now also race on Tuesday afternoon, with the possibility that their meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening may be switched to the afternoon.

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