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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Doncaster and Newbury skating on thin ice with more snow on the horizon

Frost covers have been down at Newbury since Friday
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Doncaster and Newbury, which hold the earliest hope of jumps racing resuming in Britain, were reported raceable on Tuesday – but there is no increased optimism for their Friday and Saturday meetings with snow and lower temperatures around the corner.  

Roderick Duncan, clerk of the course at Doncaster, said: "We'd have raced today – the frost didn't get in the ground and we've had only a snow flurry in the afternoon.

"But snow is forecast overnight and up to 2pm with significantly lower overnight temperatures, -4C or -5C, so we'll make a call after that tomorrow afternoon."

Newbury's clerk of the course Richard Osgood said: "The covers have done a good job of keeping the frost out but the temperatures won't be much above zero until Friday, with snow forecast on Thursday and Friday with a low coming up from Portugal.

"That would give problems with getting covers off, but they keep changing the forecast."

Kelso, due to race on Saturday, also has a forecast of sub-zero temperatures and snow flurries up until then, when it is set to get as high as 5C.

The track is making contingency plans with the BHA. Managing director Jonathan Garratt explained: “I’m very optimistic that, if we lose Saturday’s fixture, we might be able to welcome the same horses on a different day.

"Having spoken to a number of trainers with horses engaged, we know they’d be keen to come to Kelso, even if we staged the races on the Sunday, eight days later, as happened two years ago.”

Sedgefield already snowbound

Huntingdon has escaped the snow so far but it is forecast, with a -5C temperature overnight, before milder weather kicks in on Saturday ahead of the meeting scheduled for the following day.

Sedgefield, also set to race on Sunday, is already snowbound with more than two inches on the track, and clerk Paul Barker said: "We need a significant change in the weather forecast – we're part of the amber snow warning and are expecting 5-10cm." 

Leopardstown is due to be in action on Sunday and Monday and host pre-Cheltenham gallops on Monday and Tuesday. Chief executive Pat Keogh reported: "We'll be keeping a close eye on the weather with plenty of snow forecast. 

"Monday is our final jumps meeting of the season, and if everything goes as scheduled there will be horses, including some Cheltenham candidates, working after racing then. There'll also be horses working and schooling on Tuesday morning."

Two weeks before the festival, Cheltenham is preparing to lift the frost covers on Wednesday or Thursday with a forecast of significant snowfall before the weekend.

That might seem counter-intuitive, but clerk of the course Simon Claisse is happy to have the snow act as a frost cover before it naturally irrigates the track when it melts, as is forecast over the weekend.

Giving the ground as good to soft, Claisse said: "It has dried out significantly over the last two weeks. We're forecast up to 15cm of snow on Thursday and Friday. We have had the snow twice this winter and it goes very quickly in milder conditions.

"Beyond the weekend the forecast is less cold next week with rain."

Jumps fixtures in Britain & Ireland


Market Rasen cancelled
Musselburgh cancelled
Wincanton cancelled


Ludlow cancelled
Taunton cancelled
Clonmel soft, soft to heavy in places; update due before declaration time [Wednesday morning] because of adverse weather forecast


Doncaster good, good to soft in places (see story)
Newbury soft, good to soft in places (see story)
Southwell additional 'bumper for jumpers' all-weather meeting


Doncaster good, good to soft in places (see story)
Kelso soft (see story)
Newbury soft, good to soft in places (see story)
Newcastle additional 'bumper for jumpers' all-weather meeting
Navan soft; forecast for severely cold weather and snow over coming days


Huntingdon soft; raceable on Tuesday but snow and -5C forecast next two days before milder on Saturday
Sedgefield good to soft; snowbound and more forecast
Leopardstown yielding (hurdles), good to yielding (chase); forecast for cold weather and snow over coming days

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Having spoken to a number of trainers, we know they’d be keen to come to Kelso, even if we staged the races on the Sunday, eight days later
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