Wetherby could be victim of freezing climate

PROSPECTS for tomorrow’s meeting at Wetherby, featuring the prestigious Towton Novices’ Chase, appear bleak.

Wetherby chief executive and clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson.

Clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson will hold an inspection at 8am today, but he is not holding out much hope.

“We are frozen solid in a number of areas,” he told The Yorkshire Post after temperatures plummeted to minus six degrees on Wednesday night before the course was shrouded in freezing fog yesterday.

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The Towton is one of the main trials for the Grade One RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and is due to feature Catterick trainer Phil Kirby’s highly-regarded Top Ville Ben.

If tomorrow’s meeting is abandoned it will be the second successive fixture at Wetherby to be lost because of frost after the January 24 meeting suffered a similar fate.

The outlook is also bleak for jump meetings across the country.

Today’s meetings at Catterick and Chepstow were abandoned yesterday.

Musselburgh has been forced to call off its high-profile fixtures tomorrow and on Sunday, which were due to stage a number of significant trials for next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

And tomorrow’s high-profile card at Sandown, featuring the Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and trainer Kim Bailey’s unbeaten Vinndication, hangs in the balance.

Though covers were put down at the track earlier this week, they have been penetrated by frost – and snow is also forecast.

Forecast frost means this week’s high-profile Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown is also in doubt.