Racing bitten by more frost

HOPES ROSE last night that Newbury's two-day fixture due to start tomorrow can go ahead after higher temperatures took the frost out of the ground. Richard Osgood, a course spokesman, said yesterday: "The forecast is for a frost tonight and tomorrow, but for it to get warmer with cloud cover coming from the north. We are more confident than we were earlier in the week."

The going is good to soft on the hurdles track and good to soft with soft patches on the chase course.

Wincanton's card scheduled for today was called off yesterday. But the feature event, the Premiere NH Auction Novice Hurdle which had attracted several Cheltenham-bound prospects, is to be run on the same track on 25 February.

Today's other jump fixture, at Huntingdon, is subject to an inspection at 7.30 this morning. Hugo Bevan, the clerk of the course, said: "I'd have to say that prospects are no higher than 50-50 at present."

Jump racing planned for tomorrow at Bangor-on-Dee depends on the arrival of milder weather. Saturday's cards at Ayr, Haydock and Catterick await the same improvement.

n Conrad Allen trained his first winner of 1999 with 20-1 shot Crash Call Lady at Wolverhampton yesterday. Allen said later: "After the favourite Nadisha was withdrawn I thought she'd win and I backed her in forecasts with the rest of the field.'' Allen added: "I think I have the best bunch of horses I have ever had. We have got 30 horses in all, with over 20 two-year-olds and I'm hoping we'll have a bit of fun this year."

n Conditional rider Shane Kelly was yesterday banned for 21-days by the Jockey Club over his use of the whip. Six days of the ban were deferred. Kelly must also attend an instruction course at the British Racing School.

n Frankie Dettori returns from a two-month break today when he rides Playacting for Saeed bin Suroor in Dubai.