Racing: Exeter a warm hope

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The Independent Online
Exeter's meeting tomorrow offers the best hope for a resumption of jumps racing as freezing conditions continue to disrupt racing around the country.

Lingfield's all-weather Flat programme is the only survivor from five meetings scheduled for today as the cards at Cheltenham, Catterick, Folkestone and Leicester have followed yesterday's Fontwell fixture by succumbing to frost.

Of the six cards scheduled for New Year's Day, prospects look grim at four and inspections will be held at Cheltenham (noon), Catterick and Leicester (2pm) and Windsor (2.30pm).

But Southwell's all-weather Flat fixture and the card at Exeter, which is untouched by frost, appear in the clear.

Philip Arkwright, Cheltenham's clerk of the course, believes the valuable Friday programme could yet be saved. 'Warmer weather was predicted but it seems to be heading north,' he said. 'It would not need to improve much to enable the meeting to go ahead.'

Windsor's Hugo Bevan has hopes that the track's richest jumps card can be salvaged. 'The forecast is for milder weather, but the frost is still about,' he said. 'The prospects are 60-40 in favour.'

Saturday's jumps meeting at Nottingham is already in doubt and the course will be inspected at noon tomorrow. Ayr and Newbury are the other turf fixtures.