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Clerks hopeful of beating the freeze at Ayr and Plumpton

Plumpton: "I'm very hopeful Monday's meeting will take place," says clerk of the course Mark Cornford
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Tracks the length and breadth of Britain are gearing up for a week of icy weather, with a combination of freezing temperatures and snowfall likely to jeopardise fixtures in the run-up to the weekend as conditions deteriorate.

Officials at Leicester had already called an inspection on Monday morning for Tuesday's card, while the other turf meeting at Catterick could be vulnerable to forecast flurries of snow as well as increasingly cold temperatures, although reports on Sunday suggested there was no frozen ground.

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Leicester's clerk of the course Jimmy Stevenson said on Sunday: "We'd need an improvement in the forecast. If the forecast is correct we'll be struggling."

Prospects were looking somewhat better for Monday's turf fixtures at Ayr and Plumpton. Both are subject to morning inspections but officials seemed confident of beating the cold.

Ayr clerk of the course Graeme Anderson said on Sunday: "We got down to -2C last night and we're fine under the [frost] sheets. It's due to get to -3C tonight and temperatures are supposed to be slow to rise on Monday. As long as it doesn't get to -4C or -5C our sheets should be fine."

Plumpton clerk of the course Mark Cornford was similarly optimistic: "I'm very hopeful the meeting will take place. We've got all the racing lines covered and underneath the covers the ground was fine this [Sunday] morning.

"It's going to be a raw day tomorrow. I'm hopeful when we take the sheets off the ground will be okay."

With the worst of the weather expected to arrive in eastern areas and from Wednesday onwards, the fixtures that day at Musselburgh and Market Rasen look in particular danger with both tracks braced for temperatures as low as -5C and the former already frozen. Further west at Wincanton they are expecting -4C.

Similar lows are expected at Ludlow and Taunton on Thursday, with Ludlow having covered vulnerable areas and Taunton having expressed an intention to do the same.

The frost covers have also been deployed at Newbury and Doncaster, where racing takes place on Friday and Saturday.

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As long as it doesn't get to -4C or -5C our sheets should be fine

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