Racing: Musselburgh gives winter comfort

Scottish course optimistic of staging Friday meeting as signs of thaw increase

Probably 88-year-old Irish horseman Tim O'Neill had it in ironic perspective. As he lay flat on the ground, thankfully unhurt after a fall in an icy stableyard last week, his reaction was that "it wasn't as bad as this in 1947." Of course, the old days are always better but, in fact, as far as the effect of wintry weather on racing goes, they actually were worse.

The number of so-called big freeze abandonments is now 40 in Britain. In the 1946-47 season, 69 jump cards were called off. But the record is still the 110 meetings lost during the winter of 1962-63. There was no racing in England for the 75 days from 22 December until 8 March, at Newbury.

Times were so hard that a fund, which raised £17,776, was set up to help jump jockeys. The Cheltenham Festival opened on schedule on 12 March after snow had been dug from the course by hand and taken away on lorries. Attendance was down, though, with the BBC's TV coverage held partly to blame.

During the white-out that season, there was a single day's racing, when Ayr staged a six-race card on 5 January. The glimmer at the end of the current icebound tunnel is also at a coastal track in Scotland; little Musselburgh, located east of Edinburgh right where the Esk drains into the Firth of Forth, is favourite to resume the jump programme on Friday.

Yesterday, temperatures there held above freezing for the second successive day. "We were up to four degrees," said the course's operations manager, Robert Hogarth, "and if the thaw continues, we'd be quite hopeful. We're right by the sea and a sandy soil defrosts more quickly than any other."

Musselburgh's racing would be the first on turf since Plumpton nine days ago and the first in the North since Catterick on 15 December and, with Saturday's scheduled fixtures unlikely to survive (Kempton is less pessimistic than Warwick and Wetherby), the East Lothian venue will stage an extra card that day.

The British Horseracing Authority, which had already sanctioned an all-bumper card on the all-weather at Southwell tomorrow, is being pleasingly flexible and, after canvassing jump tracks' opinions of prospects yesterday, gave the go-ahead for a second extra meeting for Saturday at Fontwell, which currently has a covering of snow but is not frozen.

The Welsh Champion Hurdle, though, called off with the Ffos Las card last Saturday, will not take place this season. The Carmarthenshire track is hoping to race on Sunday but without BHA funding could not justify the cost of staging the £50,000 contest, which had been the warm-up target of the champion hurdler Punjabi.

Turf account: Sue Montgomery

Nap

Hard Ball (2.50 Southwell)

Scored decisively over course and distance last month and should be able to cope with a 3lb rise in his rating.



*NEXT BEST

Bella Charlie (2.35 Lingfield)

Showed enough in maidens to indicate a step up in trip, handicap company and cheekpieces could prove the key.

*ONE TO WATCH

Miami Gator (J R Weymes) caught a real tartar at Wolverhampton yesterday but finished clear of the rest.



*WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING

Paddy Power noted Champion Hurdle support for Khyber Kim, 10-1 from 12-1.



*CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP Law Of The Jungle (1.20 Southwell).

Suggested Topics
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Life and Style
fashionThe Secret Angels all take home huge sums - but who earns the most?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

£33000 - £34000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Technology Teacher (Resis...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?