National switch on the cards

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The Independent Online
The Welsh National, postponed because of the abandonment of yesterday's Chepstow card, could be transferred to Newbury on Saturday providing the BBC can show the race live.

Paul Greeves, the racing director of the British Horseracing Board, who initiated the switching of important races last winter, said: "There are still a number of people to consult and we expect to make an announcement tomorrow".

Kim Bailey, the trainer of the ante-post favourite Master Oats, yesterday expressed his delight at the prospect of the race being transferred, but the move will provide little solace for his staff.

"Master Oats was absolutely spot on," Bailey said. "The lads in the yard had backed him way back when he was 25-1, and now all bets are void. They say we should go for the Mldmay-Cazelet Chase at Sandown with him instead but you can't keep a horse buzzing for 10 days."

It is only the sixth time that the Welsh National has been lost to the weather since the war, and the first time since 1979.

The widespread rain has also caused the abandonment of today's card at Plumpton, while the meetings at Stratford and Leopardstown are subject to inspections this morning.

Even the "all-weather" fixture at Southwell had to be called off after two races when jockeys complained that because of surface water the circuit was unsafe.

Ray Cochrane told the stewards that conditions were the worst he had ever ridden in, including when hunting, but the course's owner, Ron Muddle took a different view. "I'm disgusted. We'll soon see the day when footballers refuse to play on a muddy pitch," he said.

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