/ Racing

British race meetings hope to beat rain

Updated: Monday, 24 Dec 2012 14:32 | Comments

Cross channel race tracks are fighting the elements ahead of St Stephen's Day
Cross channel race tracks are fighting the elements ahead of St Stephen's Day

Hopes are high of all nine remaining British race meetings scheduled for St Stephen's Day going ahead, although Chepstow's Coral Welsh National fixture on Thursday has already been called off.

Huntingdon's St Stephen's Day card was abandoned on Sunday due to a flooded track and while Wetherby will have to pass an inspection, the overall picture appears positive at most venues.

Kempton's William Hill King George VI Chase day is the undoubted highlight and clerk of the course Brian Clifford reports the Sunbury venue as ready to race.

He said: "We are soft, heavy in places. We have had five millimetres of rain overnight, but it's dry and breezy now.

"We are forecast showers throughout today and tomorrow with a more organised band of rain possibly moving through tomorrow morning.

"It is then forecast to be dry overnight and into Boxing Day morning and staying that way until mid to late afternoon which would be great.

"We are 60% soft and 40% heavy, but we will be on fresh ground."

Wetherby are due to stage the Rowland Meyrick Chase but the track must pass an 8.30am inspection on raceday morning.

Clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson remains upbeat about their chances of going ahead.

He said: "Yesterday was dry, bright and sunny and we have seen the expected improvement.

"Around 70 or 80% of the waterlogging has gone and we now have some small areas of standing water which we could probably weave around.

"It would be touch and go if we were racing today but after seeing Ascot and Haydock at the weekend, we could work around it.

"We have a mixed forecast for today with anything from half an inch to a couple of millimetres forecast, so we will have a look at 8.30am on Boxing Day."

Sedgefield's meeting will go ahead as planned after the track passed an inspection on Christmas Eve.

Clerk of the course Phil Tuck said: "We have got a very positive forecast and have passed the inspection so the meeting goes ahead as planned.

"We've seen a massive improvement and while it could still improve a little bit more, we can always miss out a fence if we need to.

"We will leave that decision until Boxing Day morning."

Ffos Las clerk of the course Tim Long is keeping a watchful eye on conditions after an overnight improvement in conditions.

He said: "We are heavy and we still have a few puddles but it has certainly improved.

"We are due to have light rain moving through this afternoon so we will keep a watching brief on the ground and see if we need to have a look on raceday morning."

The ground at Fontwell is currently reported to be heavy ahead of their holiday fixture while Market Rasen is slightly better at heavy, soft in places.

Wincanton are heavy with further rain forecast, but no inspection is planned at present.

Barry Johnson, clerk of the course said: "(The) going remains heavy after 13mm of rain overnight.

"Forecast is showers today/tomorrow, dry Wednesday. No inspection planned at present."

Towcester are similarly heavy and clerk of the course Robert Bellamy said: "There is no inspection planned at the moment.

"We have had 8mm of rain overnight but we are optimistic of going ahead."

While the picture is bright for St Stephen's Day, Chepstow have abandoned Thursday's meeting due to a waterlogged track.

Clerk of the course Keith Ottesen inspected at 12 noon but found there was little hope of racing.

Ottesen said: "We needed some periods of dry weather between the rain. It didn't rain yesterday, but we still wouldn't have been fit to race.

"The Welsh National is one of the most testing races of the year and we have to make sure it is fair and safe to the horses, which it wouldn't have been."

He added: "We have rescheduled for January 5 and the Finale Hurdle will now be worth an extra £5,500 as the value was due to move up from 2012 to 2013.

"All the details about entries for the Welsh National will be available as soon as possible."

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