Officials at Cheltenham have called a noon inspection on Friday ahead of Saturday’s card, with discussions under way to have a contingency plan of transferring the fixture to Sunday.
The track is due to stage a bumper nine-race card, with annual highlights of the Cotswold Chase and Cleeve Hurdle this year supplemented by the Grade One Clarence House Chase, which has been switched from Ascot’s cancelled card last week.
However, the Prestbury Park course is not yet totally recovered from the recent cold snap, although conditions are reported to have improved throughout Thursday.
Clerk of the course Jon Pullin has duly called an inspection for Friday, with plans to put down the covers should the ground be suitably defrosted.
Pullin said: “Following significant improvement today, we continue to remain optimistic for Saturday’s racing. However, we will be holding an inspection at 12pm tomorrow.
“Even with yesterday’s daytime temperature of up to 7C, parts of the track are currently unraceable. However, today’s temperature has again reached 7C and the ground is continuing to thaw from the frost.
“There is only a slight risk of a mild frost this evening and therefor the plan is for the frost covers to be deployed tomorrow to protect the course from Friday’s overnight forecast, which could drop to minus 2C.”
Should the meeting be lost on Saturday, the Prestbury Park team would be eager to run the meeting 24 hours later, given the importance of the Festival Trials Day fixture.
The statement added: “As a contingency plan only in the event that we have to abandon racing on Saturday, we are currently working with the British Horseracing Authority to explore the option of restaging the raceday on Sunday, January 29.
“We will update everyone as soon as we can tomorrow.”
Huntingdon’s Friday card is also subject to a 7am inspection on raceday if it is to go ahead.
The Pertemps Lady Protectress Mares’ Chase is the highlight of a seven-race card, but the track is reported to be still frozen in places after an initial check at noon on Thursday.
However, conditions are improving so a further assessment will be made in the morning.
The track tweeted: “Following the precautionary inspection today, as hoped conditions have improved and continue to for our fixture tomorrow.
“However, a further inspection will be carried out at 7am tomorrow to confirm those conditions are in line with racing standards.”
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