Snow: cold weather continues to hit the racing programmePICTURE: Getty Images
Weather takes its toll as the cold snap bites
JUMPS racing will not return to Britain until Wednesday at the earliest it was confirmed on Sunday with the abandonment of Wetherby's Tuesday meeting although doubts also surrounded fixtures scheduled for the all-weather.
After a blank day in Britain and Ireland on Sunday, racing on Monday is due to take place at Kempton and Woverhampton with both courses holding inspections on raceday morning while Lingfield's meeting on Tuesday is also subject to a 2pm check on Monday.
Wolverhampton are due to stage a seven-race card starting at 2.35 and clerk of the course Fergus Cameron will take an early morning look at the Polytrack.
He said on Sunday afternoon: "We've had further snow today and have worked the track and will now work the track overnight. It has improved since this morning. The snow is expected to ease and we've decided to call an inspection at 6.30 to see."
Kempton lost a meeting on Sunday and acting clerk of the course Sarah Dunster said Monday's eight-race card, which is scheduled to commence at 1.20pm, is not yet certain to go ahead.
Dunster plans to inspect the track at 9am and she said on Sunday evening: "It started snowing at 9.30 and hasn't stopped since. We haven't had a huge amount, about 5cm, and we can clear it.
"The problem is if the temperature is below freezing we can't work the track as the snow freezes into the surface; that was our problem today. We'll be here from 5.30am to see what we can do."
Tuesday's jumps meetings at Leicester has already been abandoned, along with Wetherby's, but there is some brighter news for later in the week. Ayr agreed last week to stage an additional jumps meeting on Wednesday and the track was raceable on Sunday with the take-offs and landings and vulnerable areas covered.
Jumps racing is also planned for Exeter where the ground was heavy on Sunday with rain and sleet forecast. The outlook for Catterick's jumps meeting is not so bright though. An inspection will take place at Catterick at 9am on Monday morning with the course frozen on Sunday.
A star-studded Cheltenham Trials Day is scheduled for Saturday but the officials at the track are keeping a close eye on the weather.
Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Sunday afternoon: "The course remains raceable under the covers but the improvement in the conditions has reversed as it has been snowing, albeit lightly, since this morning.
"It depends on how much snow we get. A thaw is coming but we don't want too much snow to come before the thaw. Provided we have two days of thaw we are going to be okay, but we can't have too much snow on the covers before then."
The Met Office offered a glimmer of hope, although it was mostly masked by the dull skies predicted for much of the week. A spokesman said: "The first part of the week will be very cold, with a little snow falling. There is a bit forecast Monday into Tuesday morning. Wednesday into Thursday looks dry but dull, and still cold.
"Temperatures are going to be down below freezing at night and not much above freezing during the day. There's some weather trying to push in from the west which is warmer, but it's hard to shift an area of set-in cold pressure."