Extra cards ride to the rescue

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Even the harshest critics of the British Horseracing Board should be able to find little to complain about regarding the way in which racing's ruling body has coped with the cold snap, writes John Cobb. The board's willingness to restage important races and the addition of standby all- weather cards are welcome developments, as is the scheduling of extra jumps meetings, a move which was announced yesterday.

An extra seven cards have been added to the National Hunt programme as part of a package of relief designed to ease the impact of the spiralling list of fixture abandonments.

With 49 meetings already lost to the weather, the BHB acted with the Levy Board to make up for lost opportunities by sanctioning replacement meetings, extra funding for divided races and enhanced prize money for key events.

The fixtures, four in the North and three in the Midlands, will be staged between 14 and 28 January, the first of them at Leicester. But with the freeze likely to continue into next week more meetings may yet be programmed.

The BHB's racing director, Paul Greeves, said: "Last season we had a dreadful time from Boxing Day to New Year but this time the cold weather seems to be biting longer and harder. There is a chance that the weather could improve by the week beginning 12 January. But, even if these and others are lost, we will continue to do as much as we can."

Replacement cards: Leicester, 14 January; Carlisle, 20 January, Market Rasen, 21 January; Wetherby, 23 January; Uttoxeter, 24 January; Ayr, 27 January; Warwick, 28 January.

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