Horsepower lights up snow-capped gallops

THIS striking snowscape on the moors above Middleham proved to be no obstacle to this string of racehorses on the early morning gallops.

The first significant snowfall of the winter provides a vivid backdrop as these racehorses brave the cold on Middlehams gallops at daybreak. Picture: John Giles/PA.

As the sun rose slowly above North Yorkshire and pierced a penetratingly cold and still sky, hundreds of stable staff braved below-freezing temperatures to exercise their horses.

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It is the one racing certainty of the year and these runners, from Phil Kirby’s yard, were put through their paces at daybreak yesterday in evocative Christmas card scenes as a blanket of snow turned many of the county’s rolling hills into a winter wonderland.

Though Yorkshire escaped the worst of this week’s storms, the cold spell could be here to stay as Leeds-based bookmaker William Hill revealed that the odds of a white Christmas were now 5-1.

Spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke says the firm will pay out if snow is recorded at Leeds Bradford Airport on Christmas Day.