Racing: Catterick offers jumpers some hope

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The Independent Online
The meeting at Catterick tomorrow offers virtually the only hope of any more jumps racing before the turn of the year. All four of today's scheduled jumps meetings at Carlisle, Newbury, Plumpton and Stratford succumbed yesterday morning to the frost, writes Ian Davies.

Prospects are also bleak for the New Year's Eve meetings at Fontwell, Taunton and Warwick. But the weather in North Yorkshire is milder, prompting hopes that Catterick will be able to stage the first jumps racing since Musselburgh last Friday.

A spokesman for Catterick, which is also due to stage a meeting on New Year's Day, said: "The track is raceable at present. There are no plans to inspect and we are quietly optimistic."

The champion jockey Tony McCoy is expected to take a full book of rides at the meeting.

With the cold weather expected to persist for much of the week prospects are poor for the early days of the New Year. The televised meeting at Cheltenham on New Year's Day is already in doubt. Officials have called an inspection for 3pm today. The Clerk of the course Philip Arkwright said: "Prospects are poor. There is a diabolical forecast and the course is unraceable at the moment. I wouldn't inspect two days in advance if I thought there was much chance."

The other courses due to stage jump racing on New Year's Day are Exeter, Leicester, Uttoxeter and Windsor.

The abandonment of today's meetings takes the tally of jumping fixtures lost this season to 31. Lingfield's standby all-weather Flat programme keeps the show on the road today. Lingfield (tomorrow) and Southwell (New Year's Day) are also due to stage all-weather meetings.

Leopardstown's meeting yesterday - also called off because of frost - has been rescheduled for today.