Cold snap forces Musselburgh to call off Cheltenham Festival Trials meeting

Officials at Musselburgh Racecourse have been forced to call off their Cheltenham Festival Trials meeting on Saturday and Sunday as the cold snap bites National Hunt racing hard.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 12:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st January 2019, 12:40 pm

With temperatures dipping well below freezing at the East Lothian track on successive nights and little prospect of it warming up sufficiently until next week, it was an easy decision for clerk of the course Harriet Graham.

“Very sadly we’ve had to abandon our Cheltenham Trials weekend because of frozen ground,” said Graham in a video posted from the course’s official Twitter account.

“We’ve tried really hard to get this meeting on, we put fleece on the whole course, but unfortunately it was minus 7C last night and the night before and the frost has got underneath the fleeces.

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“There’s no prospect of the temperatures rising enough over the next few days for us to get racing on on Saturday or Sunday.

“It’s such a great shame, it is such an exciting weekend, but we can’t beat the weather, I’m afraid.”

The British Horseracing Authority’s head of racing Paul Johnson responded to queries about possibly rescheduling the meeting by saying: “I can confirm that we will not be rescheduling this meeting, but it may be that we add in a fixture in the region.

“That could end up being at Musselburgh and races will be determined by race programme need. Same applies in all regions.”

Musselburgh general manager Bill Farnsworth said: “Musselburgh will seek the opportunity to stage an extra fixture which will meet the needs of horses that would otherwise have raced at our bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials weekend.”

Thursday was a second consecutive day of no National Hunt racing in Britain, with Fakenham and Wincanton both frozen off.