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Weather watch: Cheltenham call precautionary inspection for Friday

Wed 7 Dec 2022

Day one of the International meeting at Cheltenham is subject to a precautionary inspection at 7.30am on Friday as course officials brace themselves for two more nights of freezing temperatures.

There was a frosty scene at Prestbury Park on Wednesday morning after temperatures in the Cotswolds dipped to minus 4C on Tuesday night.

Frost covers were laid on Wednesday afternoon – but with temperatures struggling to get above freezing even during the day ahead of the high-profile meeting, clerk of the course Jon Pullin has made an early decision to announce an inspection.

He said: “Frost covers have been deployed this afternoon on the New Course and we are forecast temperatures of minus 3C tonight into tomorrow.

“The daytime temperatures are about plus 2C tomorrow, then dropping back down to minus 5C potentially overnight into Friday.

“On Friday temperatures are slow to rise in the morning and we’ll probably get up to plus 1C or 2C on the day on Friday.”

There does not appear to be any significant improvement in the forecast ahead of Saturday’s card, which is due to feature the Grade Two International Hurdle and the December Gold Cup.

Pullin added: “It’s forecast to get down to minus 5C again on Friday night into Saturday and then a similar slow temperature rise on Saturday morning.

“The covers have gone down so we’ll take a look on Friday morning and see where we are.

“The positives to take into this weekend are that firstly this is the first cold spell that we’ve had this winter, so there is still warmth in the soil. Secondly, it is the first meeting on the New Course, so we’ve got a good cover of grass and that is a help.”

Wednesday’s meeting at Hexham became the first victim of the current cold snap, with clerk of the course James Armstrong calling off proceedings following a second morning inspection at 10am.

He said: “It’s not often after one night’s frost you get problems, but we got a millimetre or two of rain yesterday and it just wet the old material we used to fill the track in a couple of weeks ago.

“The rest of the track is fine, but unfortunately wherever we’ve got the divot mix it’s turned solid.

“Walking it earlier we thought we had a chance, but temperatures dropped further to minus 2C between 7.30am and 9am and unfortunately there’s too many areas to stone pick as such to ensure safety.”

Officials at Warwick have called an 8am precautionary inspection ahead of Thursday’s meeting, while there will be a 7.30am precautionary check at Newcastle to decide whether racing can go ahead on the same day. _Clonmel _also inspect at 8am.

The team at Bangor, meanwhile, have already announced they will inspect at 8am on Friday ahead of a scheduled fixture that afternoon. The meeting at Hexham on Wednesday was called off.

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