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Hopes rise for Saturday cards at Chepstow and Kempton

A general view of Chepstow racecourse
Image: A general view of Chepstow racecourse

Hopes are rising at both Chepstow and Kempton that they may beat the wintry weather and stage their Graded cards on Saturday.

Both meetings remain subject to 8am inspections, after Chepstow passed an initial check on Friday afternoon.

Clerk of the course Libby O'Flaherty reported at that point that none of the snow forecast as possible had yet arrived - and on latest weather advice, she is optimistic the big meeting will survive.

Full frost sheets have been deployed since the start of the week to try to ensure the Coral Welsh Grand National and Grade One Finale Hurdle card, already re-scheduled from its usual date because of waterlogging at Christmas, can belatedly go ahead.

O'Flaherty said: "We're totally raceable at the moment.

"Looking at (the weather) we've had, and what we've got to come, I hope it should be fine.

"We've had no snow, and it is less likely now from the latest forecasts."

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More wintry weather is still anticipated, however, on ground described as heavy.

"There's the chance this afternoon and into this evening of sleety stuff, and overnight frost," she added.

"Then temperatures are looking positive from about 10 tomorrow morning - so I'll hope to get the covers off from nine, when it starts to get above freezing."

Kempton's Lanzarote Hurdle card is also headlined by two Grade Two events - the Ladbrokes Silviniaco Conti Chase and the re-scheduled Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle.

Clerk of the course Barney Clifford announced the morning inspection due to a continued risk of snow showers and low overnight temperatures.

He said: "We're perfectly raceable today. It was -2C overnight, and has been threatening all day with sleet and snow showers - they thankfully haven't materialised so far, but you can't rule out that risk.

"We are forecast -2C again overnight, but I hope we might be OK.

"You don't want to take any chances, and forecasts can swing by a few degrees - so we've just got to make sure that we're in a good position (on Saturday) rather than an embarrassing one."

Wincanton passed a Friday lunchtime inspection for its Saturday meeting, and will also hold another at 8am on race day - with clerk of the course Daniel Cooper more confident than he has been for much of the week.

Frost sheets on bends, take-offs and landings will remain in place overnight - but unless the forecast changes, hopes are high for the card which features the rearranged Grade Two Paddy Power Dipper Novices' Chase.

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Cooper said: "We'd be very confident now, because it's 100% back on track to be raceable ground.

"We could run our race now - and with the forecast of just -1C and then a 0C really early hours, we have to be confident. I'm really optimistic.

"It's been on a knife edge all week really, but we've now finally got to a place where we're raceable with a really quite kind forecast overnight.

"I expect it to be raceable by mid-morning latest, so I'd hope to be able to see that at 8am and call it going ahead.

"There's no looming long morning ahead, I don't think."

Fairyhouse's meeting was abandoned after a 12pm check on Friday, and subsequently rescheduled to take place on Tuesday - while a provisional plan is already in place to move Sunday's Grade One card at Naas back to Wednesday, pending an inspection on Saturday afternoon.

Naas clerk of the course Brendan Sheridan said on Friday morning: "At present the track is currently unfit for racing.

"The forecast is pretty bad over the next 24 to 48 hours, so we'll have a further update and another inspection at 1.30pm tomorrow to determine whether Sunday's meeting can go ahead."

Back in Britain, Sunday's meeting at Exeter is subject to a 4pm inspection on Saturday - with the track currently frozen in places.

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