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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor