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Snow joke as winter's ready to wreak havoc

Britain's three jumps meetings on Saturday are bracing themselves for snow as the winter is set to take a turn for the worse.

Frost has been posing a problem after the prolonged wet spell but officials at Ascot, Haydock and Taunton are doing all they can in a bid to keep the show going.

Ascot, whose card features the Victor Chandler Chase, reports below zero temperatures at night, with daytime highs not getting above freezing and with snow in the forecast for tomorrow and Saturday.

"We were disappointed to see snow come into the equation again. We remain hopeful, but we've got to consider that racing has got to be under a bit of a threat for that forecast," said clerk of the course Chris Stickels.

"We don't want to take the covers off too soon because temperatures will remain below freezing, about minus 3C on Thursday night and Friday night.

"They will remain on for the moment and we will review the situation.

The Peter Marsh Chase is the highlight at Haydock, but an inspection has been called for 8.30am tomorrow.

Officials at Taunton do not know what to expect, but remain hopeful racing will go ahead.

"We don't know whether we are going to be frozen off, snowed off, or waterlogged off as they are now saying this band of snow that we are on the very edge of could turn to rain," said clerk of the course Michael Trickey.

"At the moment we have been raceable and, much to our surprise and delight, we are still hanging in there.

"We will take the covers off on Friday because if it snows we wont be able to get them off. If it turns to rain on Friday night then we might be all right unless we get too much. At the moment things are going more in our favour."

Tomorrow's meeting at Musselburgh was abandoned today due to a frozen track.

Officials called an 8am inspection on today but following another cold night, they were able to make a slightly earlier call.



Abandon

General manager Bill Farnsworth said: "We have had to abandon.

"It was minus 1C overnight and the course is still frozen. We are forecast 1C or 2C today and another minus 1C or 2C overnight so the track is not going to improve."

Today's meeting at Wincanton survived after the track passed a morning inspection.

Clerk of the course Barry Johnson had planned to check the track at 8.30am but was able to give the meeting the go-ahead earlier than expected.

He said: "It's minus 2C at the moment but we put the covers down and they've done the job as we're perfectly raceable underneath. We will leave them in place for a couple of hours yet.

"We could get some sleety showers late this afternoon but they hopefully shouldn't cause any problems."