Murless is confident racing will go ahead


YESTERDAY'S thaw has given prospects for racing a much needed boost after the frost and snow forced a spate of abandonnents in Britain towards the end of last week and Saturday's Irish meeting at Punchestown.

Long-range forecasts predict the biting frost will gradually ease during the week although it is likely to remain cold.

Punchestown is reasonably confident that Saturday's rescheduled meeting will go ahead tomorrow. Original declarations stand.

Course manager Charles Murless said yesterday that the recent thaw has helped matters considerably. "We will review the situation in the morning and the likelihood is that we will have an inspection sometime tomorrow, with probably a further one on Tuesday morning. The idea is to keep everyone informed, but at the moment we are confident it will go ahead," he added.

Plumpton and Ayr, due to stage meetings today are also sounding cautiously optimistic after an improvement in conditions.

Plumpton's clerk of the course, Cliff Griggs, who looked at the ground yesterday morning, said: "Conditions have improved to such an extent that I am now optimistic, and will inspect again at 6.30 a.m. tomorrow morning.

"There has been a thaw overnight and the snow has gone. It depends on the weather - it is forecast for just about freezing tonight but we'll have to wait and see, and I am optimistic."

The card at Ayr, where prospects were described as "bleak" yesterday, also hinges on an early-morning inspection. Course manager Mark Kershaw, said this afternoon: "The conditions have improved to such an extent that we have a squeak - more than that, in fact."

There are no reported problems at the day's third fixture, the all-weather card at Southwell. Charlie Moore, clerk of the course at Nottingham, also reported an improvement in conditions for tomorrow's fixture.

"The temperature is zero, but it is not freezing. There is snow, but there is no ice on it," said Moore. "The quantity of snow has halved and if we get a bit of warmth we have got a chance."

Musselburgh have announced that tomorrow's fixture will go ahead. After an inspection yesterday, Mark Kershaw said: "The course is fine and the snow has cleared. Although the temperature is predicted to drop to between zero and minus one degree overnight, it shouldn't be a problem."

However, despite the less gloomy outlook there are still a couple of meetings - Windsor on Wednesday and Towcester on Thursday - which are doubtful.