Kelso set to inspect as big freeze puts next week's meeting in doubt

KELSO'S jumps meeting on Wednesday is already under threat due to the Arctic conditions, with an inspection called for 12 noon tomorrow.

This week the course has been frozen and covered in 20 centimetres of snow. Temperatures dipped as low as -10C on Tuesday night and it was snowing again yesterday.

It is forecast to remain very cold until Sunday with a possible rise in temperatures into next week.

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Acting clerk of the course Harriet Graham believes the fixture has little chance of going ahead. "We're covered in snow and it's snowing again. We had a deep frost last week and it's done us less favours because the ground is now rock hard and we've got about eight inches of snow on top of it," she said.

"It's going to be very cold up until Boxing Day. There's a possibility of milder weather coming in but if that did come in and we had a really quick thaw we'd be waterlogged.

"It's not looking good so we're going to have a look on Friday. We're quite depressed about it and think it's quite unlikely. We thought if there's no chance at all we can call it off on Friday and everybody knows where they stand then."

The persistent cold spell has already eaten into the Christmas programme and, while officials at Kempton remain hopeful about their prospects of staging the prestigious William Hill King George VI Chase meeting on Boxing Day, the meetings at Market Rasen and Towcester have already gone, inspections have been called at Wetherby, Wincanton and Huntingdon, although Fontwell are upbeat.

Wetherby will inspect at 1.30pm today, while Wincanton, which is covered in five inches of snow, will stage an 8am inspection this morning and Huntingdon's Boxing Day meeting hinges on a 12pm inspection tomorrow.

After Towcester were forced to pull the plug on Tuesday, frost and snow has also put paid to Market Rasen's Christmas fixture. Fontwell was reported to be raceable under the covers yesterday with no frost in the ground. Although there was still some snow on the course, a thaw had set in. Extra covers are being laid today to provide further protection from the frost forecast at the weekend.