Doncaster remaining optimisitic

Racecourse officials are banking on the forecast of milder weather in midweek releasing the country from the grip of Arctic conditions that are currently disrupting the racing programme.

Cheltenham cleark of the course Simon Claisse.

Doncaster, where racing is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, has only a fraction of the snow that has hit the Cotswolds.

Roderick Duncan, clerk of the course at the South Yorkshire track, is very hopeful they will be able to race.

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“At the moment, the forecast indicates it’s going to improve with temperatures rising from Wednesday onwards,” he said.

Clan Des Obeaux

“We are monitoring the forecast and will take what action we feel we need to from then on.

“We have very little snow at the moment, we are just at freezing.

“With the forecast as it is now we are very optimistic.

“We will make a decision about what precautions we need to take.”

Clan Des Obeaux

Cheltenham, which stages the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup on Saturday as the highlight of its two-day meeting, was covered in snow yesterday but the weather forecast gives plenty of hope it will clear from tomorrow. The thaw should continue on Thursday, before colder weather returns on Friday.

“I’m changing the ground to good to soft, soft in places and there’s about 30 millimetres of snow sitting on the top,” said clerk of the course Simon Claisse.

“We expect the milder weather to shift the snow on Wednesday/Thursday, with a bit more rain and getting cold again at the end of the week.

“Saturday morning will be extremely cold with Friday morning zero to minus 1C.

“We’ve currently got soft covers down on the vulnerable areas and we’re on ground we’ve not raced on since April. We may need to consider frost covers again for Friday night.”

While Monday’s jumps meeting at Fontwell and Southwell’s Flat all-weather card survived the cold blitz, the National Hunt fixtures at Uttoxeter today has been abandoned after the Staffordshire track was left with a three-inch carpet of snow. The situation looks precarious at Ayr as its card today is subject to a 9am precautionary inspection.

Temperatures dropped to minus 6C within the last 24 hours, but the track is covered by fleece sheets to protect against frost.

Cold weather is likely to be prevalent over the next few days, with a forecast low of minus 5C on Monday.

Tomorrow’s jumps meetings at Hexham and Leicester are in doubt, too, with both racecourses having called 7.30am inspections this morning.

Warwick’s jumps meeting on Thursday must also pass an 8am course inspection tomorrow morning.

Clan Des Obeaux heads the weights for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup after 17 horses remained in Saturday’s Cheltenham feature following the confirmation stage.

The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old steps into handicap company after staying on well to land a graduation chase at Haydock last month.

Nicholls has also left in Le Prezien and Romain De Senam as he looks to win this valuable contest for a fifth time since 2009. They were third and fifth respectively in last month’s BetVictor Gold Cup behind Splash Of Ginge.

The latter could try to follow up that victory. His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies also has Foxtail Hill, while David Pipe’s Starchitect, who was only a beaten neck in second place, could reoppose. Vaniteux is a second possible for the Pipe team.

Nicky Henderson is two-handed with O O Seven and Kilcrea Vale – as is Evan Williams, who has King’s Odyssey and On Tour.

Dan Skelton’s Summer Plate winner Long House Hall, Harry Fry’s Kylemore Lough and Ballyalton from Ian Williams’ stable are also in the mix.