Cheltenham Friday card given green light after second inspection

Fri 9 Dec 2022

Friday’s meeting at Cheltenham will go ahead as scheduled after the track passed a second morning inspection at 10.30am.

The first day of the International meeting was in some doubt due to very cold temperatures in the Cotswolds, with the mercury reaching minus 7.5C late on Thursday night.

Thankfully, though, the frost covers which were deployed earlier in the week have done their job.

While clerk of the course Jon Pullin initially looked at 7.30am and was confident of racing taking place, he called a second look to be on the safe side and was eventually able to give the all-clear.

Pullin said: “The majority of the covers have been lifted and the ground is raceable underneath, so racing goes ahead.”

The first of six races at Cheltenham is due to get under way at 12.40pm with the scheduled first race on the cross country course already frozen off.

An announcement on what time officials at Prestbury Park will inspect ahead of Saturday’s meeting, due to stage the International Hurdle and the December Gold Cup, will be made in due course.

“The covers will go down straight after racing, in fact we’ll actually start the process in the two-and-a-half-mile chute during racing today as we don’t race on that chute after the fourth race,” Pullin added.

“So we’ll get that covered while we continue racing on the round course and then we’ll get the rest of the covers down as soon as we can.

“The forecast is for another minus 3C/minus 4C frost tonight and again temperatures are slow to rise on Saturday morning.”

A second morning inspection is taking place at Doncaster, but officials at Bangor earlier stumps ahead of their National Hunt card, with part of the track frozen and unraceable.

The team at Hereford have called a precautionary check for 7.30am ahead of racing on Saturday.

Officials at Navan will inspect at midday on Friday ahead of Saturday’s card, while the high-profile meeting at Punchestown on Sunday – due to feature the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase – will need to pass a noon inspection on Saturday.

Brendan Sheridan, clerk of the course for the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, said: “Following overnight snow and severe frost, Punchestown is unraceable.

“With the forecast remaining very cold for the next few days and severe frost each night we will have an official inspection at 12pm on Saturday in advance of racing on Sunday.”

Sunday’s meeting at Carlisle has been abandoned, while Market Rasen will inspect at midday on Sunday ahead of Monday’s meeting with temperatures well below freezing for consecutive nights forecast.

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