Newbury and Warwick postponed due to frozen ground
- We bring you the news that Saturday's meetings at Newbury and Warwick have been postponed due to frozen tracks
- The Betfair Hurdle and Denman Chases were due to take place on ITV
- Newbury's card will now take place next Sunday
- Warwick's Kingmaker card could be scheduled for Monday
Altior (left) could still run in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury next Sunday. (Getty)
Viewers anticipating a thrilling afternoon of action at Newbury and Warwick on Saturday were left disappointed today, as both meetings were cancelled due to frozen ground.
Stormy Darcy has been playing havoc with race meetings throughout the week. Fairyhouse's meeting on Monday is the only jumps card to have beaten the frost this week. Even all-weather cards have been forced to abandon after their poly tracks had frozen over.
ITV Racing was due to screen several high-profile races on Saturday, including the Betfair Hurdle and the Denman Chase. Now, viewers have only all-weather action at Lingfield and Chelmsford to watch, and both of those courses face inspection prior to the off.
"We had a bit of snow on the track and when we went to work it for racing today we found the slight thaw has caused moisture to freeze in the track in places." Said Andy Waitt, clerk of the course at Chelmsford, after Friday's meeting was called off.
"The forecast is due to be -4C, with a wind chill of -9C, by the time of the first race [on Friday] and we're not going to take the chance of having frozen bits in the surface."
"The temperatures overnight don't look brilliant and in the daytime we're looking at -1C to -2C, so I'm not overly confident (That Saturday's meeting will take place). We'll do whatever we can."
Newbury announced that Betfair Hurdle day has been penciled in for next Sunday, February 21st. Warwick, meanwhile, seems hopeful that they will be able to stage Kingmaker Hurdle day on Monday, as temperatures are due to rise above zero over the course of the weekend.
Newbury's new date gives any potential runners just 22 days of recovery before the start of the Cheltenham Festival. Nicky Henderson was banking on getting both Champ and Altior out this weekend. When asked whether his stable stars would run at Newbury's rescheduled meeting, Henderson couldn't give a definitive answer.
"It’s highly commendable that the card could be going to be rerun and we’re grateful the opportunity to run Champ and Altior is available." Henderson told the press.
“As far as Altior is concerned, I need to discuss further with Patricia and Christopher Pugh to sum up the pros and cons of a race at this stage. Particularly with a view to the going we might encounter on Sunday week, which is all-important. This is relevant to the reduced time gap between the two races.
“As far as Champ is concerned, he is coming off a longer lay off and it is more important that he has a race prior to the Gold Cup, which, in fairness, is only two days short of a month between the two.
“Obviously we will keep all options open and everybody up to date with our plans.”
Altior remains a 7/1 shot to regain his Champion Chase crown with Betfair. Betfair also list Champ as a 10/1 shot in their betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.