Three meetings fall to freeze

Although the weather is not as severe as it was last year when all 10 meetings were lost on Boxing Day, Ayr, Newton Abbot and Wincanton all fell victim to the freeze yesterday and prospects for several other cards hinged on the frost staying away last night.

Officials at Ayr walked the course yesterday morning and found it to be frozen. With the forecast for another sharp frost in Scotland last night they were forced to call the meeting off.

At Newton Abbot, the racecourse general manager, Pat Masterson, said: "The course was frozen at 12 noon today and in view of further frost being forecast we had no alternative but to abandon."

They were slightly more optimistic at Wincanton, where officials gave the course until the afternoon to begin to thaw but found it to be still frozen at 3pm.

Among the courses under threat, Hereford will hold an inspection at 7.30am today. John Williams, the clerk of the course, said: "We couldn't have raced today but it is nice and sunny so it depends on the weather tonight." Huntingdon will also be under scrutiny at the same time.

But frustrated racegoers will be able to see some competition on the television as there are no problems anticipated for the day's most prestigious meeting at Kempton. The course reported a relatively mild night on Christmas Eve.