Newcastle hope for a respite

RACING is praying for a respite from the wet weather ahead of a big weekend at Newbury and Newcastle.

Conditions at both tracks currently have heavy in the going description, but Gosforth Park has been having the worst of the rain.

Newcastle are set to stage their biggest meeting of the National Hunt season, featuring the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle.

However, the course has been hit by more than 50 millimetres of rain in recent days.

‘‘Since midnight we’ve had another inch of rain, so that’s well over 50 millimetres in the last three days,’’ clerk of the course James Armstrong said last night.

‘‘It’s certainly beginning to take its toll. There is water beginning to sit on all sorts of places.

‘‘At the moment we are heavy, waterlogged in places.

‘‘According to the forecast we are looking at another 10- 15mm up to the early hours of the morning then it clears up.

‘‘We will have a proper assessment in the morning and see how it is draining away.

‘‘It looks as if from tomorrow things will improve, but I’m not ruling out sharp showers rolling in off the east coast.

‘‘Then we might have the added problem of temperatures dropping away towards the end of the week, something we are keeping an eye on.’’ The situation at Newbury ahead of the three-day Sportingbet Winter Festival meeting, culminating in the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday, is not as bad.

The going remains soft, heavy in places.

‘‘Ground wise, we are still the same. We had 6.5mm of rain overnight and we are due some light rain possibly getting heavier towards dawn then after that clearing up,’’ said clerk of the course Richard Osgood.

‘‘I am covering take-offs and landings and then we will see what it looks like as we get closer towards the end of the week.’’ In the meantime, racing continues to be hit in all parts of the country.

Today’s meeting at Sedgefield in County Durham has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track, while the other scheduled jumps fixture at Lingfield rests on a 7.30am inspection.

Neil MacKenzie Ross, clerk of the course at the Surrey venue, said the meeting was ‘‘on a precipice’’ after assessing conditions for a second time at 2pm yesterday.

The situation is poor for tomorrow, with Wetherby and Fontwell having already fallen by the wayside.

Wetherby clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson said: ‘‘We are already flooded and it’s going to get worse.

‘‘From experience, I know we need four or five days for it to dry out.’’ Fontwell clerk of the course Ed Arkell brought forward an inspection after the Sussex circuit was hit by further rain.

‘‘We’ve made an early decision as there is no point delaying the inevitable. We now have standing water and it’s pouring with rain,’’ he said.

Southwell had already lost their fixtures yesterday and today due to waterlogging but have been able to hand their all-weather meeting tomorrow over to Wolverhampton.

Uttoxeter are to stage an allhurdle and bumper card on Thursday after abandoning the two chases on the card due to the inclement weather.

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