Constitution Hill expected to run at Newcastle© Photo Healy Racing
Frost covers have been deployed at both Newcastle and Newbury as course officials do everything within their power to ensure this weekend’s high-profile fixtures beat the impending cold snap.
Newcastle is due to stage the biggest meeting of its jumps season on Saturday, with the brilliant Constitution Hill set to be the star of the show as he bids for back-to-back victories in the BetMGM Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
However, with temperatures in the north east due to dip below freezing every night ahead of raceday, clerk of the course Eloise Quayle appears more hopeful than confident that racing will go ahead.
She said: “We had the black, thick sheets down on the take-offs, landings and crossings yesterday and we’ve covered the rest of the track today.
“Temperatures are forecast to drop below zero every night from tonight now and I suppose the concern at the moment is that while the night temperatures are not massively cold, the day temperatures aren’t coming up overly high and they’re quite slow to rise.
“On Saturday, we’re not looking at getting above zero until around 11am, so we’re obviously going to be reviewing and checking the forecasts and hoping that will improve marginally at least.
“We’ll have to be very slick (on Saturday) because our first race is due off at 11.35am and you don’t want to lift the covers too early because if it is warm enough underneath, you don’t want to lift them and then it starts to freeze.
“It’s all fine margins at the minute and a bit of a balancing act, but I think we’ve done everything we can to keep that residual heat in the ground and there’s a great covering of grass.
“Hopefully, the forecast is forgiving, rather than being as brutal as it might be, but we’ll just have to see and keep our fingers crossed.”
Saturday’s Coral Gold Cup is the centrepiece of a scheduled two-day meeting further south at Newbury.
Conditions were perfectly raceable on Tuesday afternoon – but with frost forecast for the remainder of the week, clerk of the course George Hill is taking precautions.
He said: “We were frost-free this morning and had a nice drop of rain on Monday, but we’re due to get a bit colder heading towards the weekend, so we’ve covered the track for Friday and we’ll cover up again after racing on Friday ahead of Saturday.
“There are sub-zero temperatures forecast for later in the week, and there’s freezing fog around too, so we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.
“We were over 7C today with a nice bit of sunshine and we’ve got good grass cover, so that’s a positive – as the more grass there is the better when frost is around.
“It’s hard to imagine today that the frost is coming, but that’s what they’re saying, so we’ll be prepared either way.”
Officials at Kelso have called a precautionary inspection for 7.30am ahead of Wednesday’s card due to the threat of overnight snow and frost.