Exeter abandons hope of racing as winter continues to wield influence
Officials at Exeter had to call off today's meeting following a second inspection at lunchtime yesterday.
Hopes for a return to jumps racing in England before the weekend were given a cold, sharp shock as the freezing weather continued to bite.
Exeter's clerk of the course Barry Johnson took an initial look at 8am and was hopeful of conditions improving, after seeing some of the snow on the track melt overnight.
However, the weather soon turned colder once again and Johnson reported the Haldon Hill track to still be unraceable following another check shortly before 1pm yesterday. He said: "The temperature has dropped like a stone here and unfortunately it is not going improve.
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"It was a lovely day earlier on, we had some rain and it was beginning to thaw. But the temperature dropped back to 1C and we had some sleet and hail and a forecast of just minus 1C tonight, so it was best to make a call now."
Elsewhere, Cheltenham's big Festival Trials Day on Saturday could be run a day later if the meeting is abandoned.
Groundstaff have been working overtime to shift the snow which fell on top of the frost sheets, which has given course officials renewed hope of the fixture going ahead.
More snow is forecast, which would once again put the meeting in doubt. Cheltenham is, however, continuing to liaise with Channel 4 about the prospect of televising the meeting if it is rescheduled for Sunday.
Ayr was quick to snap up an additional jumps fixture this week but the threat of frost hangs over the Scottish track, with a precautionary inspection called for 7.30am ahead of today's meeting.
While winter released its grip ever so slightly to allow Flat racing on artificial surfaces to get the show back on the road at Lingfield and Wolverhampton yesterday, Kempton's all-weather meeting this afternoon is subject to a 10am inspection, while Lingfield's programme today needs to survive a 7am inspection.
Today's card at Limerick also hinges on a precautionary inspection at 8am, while tomorrow's meeting at Fakenham has already been abandoned due to snow.
No problems are reported at Gowran tomorrow, when the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase is the feature event.
Prospects for Doncaster's feature meeting of the season taking place on Saturday have taken a turn for the worse.
Officials at the track sounded upbeat on Monday about the chances of an improvement in the weather coming in time to save Saturday's card, although Friday's meeting is subject to a 10am inspection today. However, the forecast has now changed and confidence has dipped.
The BHA has already taken measures in case there is another weekend wipe-out. A "jumpers' bumpers" card has been scheduled for Kempton on Friday, while Wolverhampton will stage an additional all-weather Flat fixture on Saturday.