Racing: Frost puts more cards in doubt

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The Independent Online

Today's two remaining turf meetings at Cheltenham and Warwick depend on inspections at 7am and 7.30am respectively as the cold snap hits racing. Fontwell and Catterick were abandoned because of frost yesterday, leaving the all-weather card at Wolverhampton as today's only fixture certain to go ahead.

Today's two remaining turf meetings at Cheltenham and Warwick depend on inspections at 7am and 7.30am respectively as the cold snap hits racing. Fontwell and Catterick were abandoned because of frost yesterday, leaving the all-weather card at Wolverhampton as today's only fixture certain to go ahead.

Simon Claisse, the Cheltenham clerk of the course, said last night: "The forecast is for it to get down to minus five tonight and, if that is right, then we will not be able to race tomorrow. We have to hope that the forecasters have got it wrong, as they did at Kempton."

The Warwick stewards decided to wait until this morning after holding an inspection at 4pm yesterday, but admit they also need the weather forecast to be wrong.

The weather is set to get worse for the first few days of the New Year. Prospects are poor for Catterick tomorrow and following yesterday's abandonment, John Gundill, the course manager, said: "There will be a further inspection for Tuesday's card at 9am on Monday."

Tomorrow's other meetings at Cheltenham, Exeter – where the course is frozen in places – Plumpton, which is also unraceable, and Leicester look likely to be further casualties.

Leicester will inspect at 3.15pm today and Nick Lees, the clerk of the course, commented: "We have got half an inch of snow and it has been pretty cold all day. If the forecast is correct, we won't race but it's not always correct."

The other meeting scheduled for New Year's Day is on the all-weather track at Southwell, where the going is slow.

Ayr's meeting on Wednesday is already in doubt and an inspection will be held at 10.30am tomorrow. Racing in Ireland is also being affected, with today's fixture at Punchestown cancelled because of frost.

* See More Business has been ruled out of the Grand National in April after being pulled up in last week's Welsh National. Paul Nicholls, his trainer, said: "The blinkers will definitely be back on next time. People keep saying we should retire him, but why should we? He loves what he's doing at home. He won't even be entered for National, I can't see him enjoying it much."

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