Horse racing: Freeze casts doubt over meeting at Musselburgh

Monday's meeting at Musselburgh is already under threat from snow with officials calling an inspection at noon tomorrow.

There were 23 centimetres of snow on the course yesterday after a further three centimetres fell overnight, and more snow showers are forecast at the track through the week.

Clerk of the course Harriet Graham said yesterday: "We had 3cm of snow last night and at 8am it was minus 5C. The trouble is it is not getting any warmer. It is due to be below freezing all day, which is a huge problem obviously. We'll inspect at noon on Friday and I imagine that would give us a good idea.

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"It is due to be slightly warmer on Sunday but the damage could have been done by then. It's not looking hopeful."

The Arctic conditions continued to ruin racing across the country, with yesterday's only surviving meeting at Kempton's all-weather track after the earlier abandonments of Ayr, Catterick and Plumpton.

At Kempton, Custard Cream Kid provided a first success in six outings for 18-year-old Limerick rider Laura Barry. A graduate of the Irish pony racing scene, she showed plenty of strength to persuade the 7-1 shot to shade a bunched finish to the All Weather "Hands And Heels" Apprentice Series Handicap.

Today's cards at Market Rasen and Leicester have bitten the dust, and Wincanton drew stumps after bringing forward a scheduled 9am inspection. "We got down to minus 3C last night. We couldn't race today and the forecast is for 1C, but feeling like minus 4C in the wind, so it's not going to come out," said clerk of the course Barry Johnson.

Lingfield are due to race on the Polytrack today but even that fixture is in some doubt as a 6am inspection has been called.

"We're currently under eight inches of snow, but I haven't been able to get to the track to give people updates," said clerk of the course Neil MacKenzie Ross.

Wolverhampton's all-weather card is due to go ahead as planned. Exeter tomorrow has gone already due to frost, another track looked after by Johnson, who said: "There's no snow at all, but the killer is the forecast. It's due to get to around minus 4C tonight and minus 7C tomorrow night. It was no good messing around so we've pulled it early."

Sandown on the same day is under a huge cloud, with snow the problem in Esher and a 9am inspection has been called for today. "We'll have a look at 9am. I think we are anticipating further snow in the area," said clerk Andrew Cooper. "I imagine we'll be looking at a similar (inspection] time on Friday ahead of Saturday's meeting."

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Wetherby's meeting on Saturday has been abandoned already, with clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson not even bothering to call an inspection.

Hexham's meeting next Wednesday would already look to need a minor miracle as it was heavy before being hit by two feet of snow.x