Horse Racing: Weather may yet freeze out Musselburgh

PLANS for an extra meeting at Musselburgh this weekend depend very much on the weather – in more ways than one.

With much of the country in a fourth week of snow and ice, a steady thaw on the East Lothian links means the seaside track may well be back in action for its scheduled fixture on Friday as well as the extra meeting it has been allotted by the British Horseracing Authority for the following day.

But problems with financial funding for the extra races mean they will only go ahead if the other turf jumping meetings at Wetherby and Warwick succumb to the weather.

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"Things are a bit up in the air at the moment," said racecourse boss Bill Farnsworth. "In view of the fact that there has not been any racing in Scotland or the North of England for more than three weeks, we suggested to the British Horseracing Authority that we would well be able to stage a double header this weekend.

"Things are thawing out here – we had plus 5C degrees yesterday – and we feel we have a very good chance of being able to race as scheduled on Friday.

"And with owners, trainers and jockeys desperate to get back into action, we felt we could easily cope with an additional fixture the following day. The BHA agreed, but funding has to come from the Levy Board and they are being a little cautious.

"They have agreed the funding, but only if the weather plays havoc with the other two turf fixtures at Wetherby and Warwick. If those two fixtures beat the weather, the Levy Board will withdraw their funding of the extra Musselburgh meeting and we will not go ahead as it would simply not be a viable proposition to go forward entirely on our own.

"However, both Wetherby and Warwick report that they still have severe weather problems with both snow and ice, so we will simply have to wait and see," he added.

Details of the extra races were being published today with entries to be made on Thursday and declarations to run due on Friday morning, while an additional extra fixture at Fontwell in Sussex on Saturday has also been agreed on a similar basis.

Musselburgh has already lost three prime fixtures in this current cold spell and the meeting on Monday, 7 December was the last fixture in Scotland to go ahead north of the Border.