Forecast is enough to send chill into hearts at Wetherby

Wetherby racecourse officials are refusing to bow to the Arctic conditions as they fight to stage their lucrative Boxing Day meeting.

Twelve races are scheduled at the North Yorkshire track over Sunday and Monday but the big freeze that has gripped Britain for the past few days threatens to force a cancellation of the earlier meeting for the second year running.

The covers have been placed on the track and a first inspection of the ground will be made at 1.30pm today, but a considerable thaw is required if racing is to be run at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

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"We are doing our best – and putting the covers on gives us a fighting chance," said Wetherby chief executive Jonjo Sanderson, who is more optimistic that Monday's card will survive the chill. "But they're not miracle workers. We've had two nights this week where temperatures have been minus 10 degrees.

"The covers only have an effect up to about minus three, then after that it's a case of they may as well not be there. Plus we've got frost underneath them now.

"But we're staying optimistic.

"If temperatures drastically rise Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and right up until the first race on Boxing Day then that gives us a chance, but even then we are talking about temperatures in the region of plus five, plus six, and unfortunately that's not on the horizon.

"Last year the Boxing Day meeting was cancelled due to snow, this year we have frost – different problems, potentially the same scenario."

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The Boxing Day meeting is one of the most lucrative of the year for Wetherby and generally attracts around 25 per cent of their annual attendance.

But such is the nature of the British weather, it is not a meeting the course's board include in their annual budget.

The Wetherby meet includes the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase and is the second biggest card of the day, after Kempton, which like Wetherby is waiting for the weather to improve sufficiently to allow racing to go ahead.

The Boxing Day meetings at Towcester and Market Rasen have already been abandoned along with three more in Ireland.

Wolverhampton and Fontwell are still scheduled to go ahead while inspectors will test the surface at Wincanton this morning and at Huntingdon at midday tomorrow.