Betfair Super Saturday at mercy of -10C cold weather blast with Newbury's blockbuster card in huge doubt
NEWBURY'S huge Betfair Super Saturday card is in massive doubt due to freezing temperatures.
An inspection has been called for Friday morning, but course officials are already looking into the possibility of rescheduling the meeting.
That will be good news to the likes of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson who are desperate to run stars such as Altior, Clan Des Obeaux and Champ ahead of the spring festivals.
The feature Betfair Hurdle would also be lost – the most valuable handicap of the season.
The course have pulled out all the stops to try and get the card on, but with temperatures possibly diving as low as -10C in the coming days, it may be taken out of their hands.
Keith Ottesen, clerk of the course, admitted: "It was only minus 2C overnight, but it didn't get above zero on Tuesday, so it's not just the night-time temperatures that are a problem.
"It's a cumulative effect of the temperature zero or below for a number of days. You've got to cover up to give it every chance, but with the forecast the way it is, the fleece covers that we use don't offer enough protection for such a prolonged period of cumulative frost.
"We haven't got the best forecast going forward. It's going to be very cold tonight and into Thursday morning, the same thing Friday night into Saturday and not much better Thursday into Friday.
"At this stage it's far too early to do anything but to call an inspection for Friday, but really we need a change in the forecast to come.
"Unless there is a complete change, it will be a struggle."
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Big name trainers and the course itself will be hopeful of rescheduling the meeting if Saturday is a no go.
There is also the possibility of moving the key races to Ascot next Saturday, as was the case two years ago.
Otteson added: "We're definitely talking about rescheduling at the moment. We need a number of things to align.
"From a Newbury point of view, we'd like to run the whole day, rather than just move races here and there. We're just working on whether we can reschedule the day in the next week when conditions allow.
"I can't really say more than that at the moment. Obviously there's TV, sponsors, the Levy Board and the BHA involved. We've been talking about it all week to try to find a solution, obviously with the support of Betfair."
Wednesday's all-weather fixture at Newcastle was called off due to snow.
The venue was due to stage a seven-race card, but overnight snow forced clerk of the course James Armstrong to take an initial look at 8am, before checking conditions again at 10am.
That second inspection showed the track was not fit for action and Armstrong abandoned the fixture, with an inspection called for 10am on Thursday ahead of the planned evening card that day.
There will be no jumps action in Britain on Thursday, as Ffos Las' meeting has been called off due to a frozen track.
Officials had hoped to escape the worst of the overnight freeze and called a precautionary inspection for 8.30am on Wednesday.
However, that check showed the track to be unraceable with little prospect of sufficient improvement.
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