Hopes high at two venues


Newcastle became the fifth meeting of the current British jumps season to be lost to the weather when yesterday's card was called off following an inspection. The temperature had dropped dramatically on Monday night and snow had fallen on the course hampering the prospects of a thaw.

"We abandon," declared clerk of the course David McAllister. "The frost is in the ground with snow on top.

"We covered the landings and take offs but the footings - after we raced on Saturday - I'm afraid are a bit solid. You can't cover the whole course. It's a pity but there will be another day."

Tuesday's other National Hunt meeting at Newton Abbot was called off on Monday due to waterlogging, leaving only Lingfield's all-weather fixture. Catterick, due to race today, could also be under threat from frost and there is an inspection planned for 7.30 this morning.

A spokeswoman for the track said yesterday: "We had a frost last night and the forecast is for it to stay cold today with the chance of wintry showers and sunny spells."

And it was a similar story at Southwell where there was subzero temperatures. Head groundsman Dave Williams explained: "We don't have any problems for tomorrow's card at the moment."

Prospects for today's other fixture at Fontwell also appear bright despite 16mm of rain and sleet overnight.

"We are OK although we had 16mm of rain and sleet overnight changing the going to soft," reported assistant clerk of the course Paul Deacon.

Tomorrow, as well as the scheduled meeting on Lingfield's all-weather, there is due to be jumps racing at Leicester and Windsor. Both tracks report "no problems".

Chepstow, due to stage the Rehearsal Chase on Saturday, reported a slight frost yesterday morning.