Ascot racing AXED but Long Walk Hurdle moved to Kempton on Boxing Day, says Nicky Henderson
ASCOT’S Saturday racing including the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle has been axed – but the big race will be moved to Kempton on Boxing Day.
Bosses have ruled out moving the Ascot card to Sunday, when temperatures are set to rise again, but punters will be in for a post-Christmas treat with the Long Walk set to be on the same card as the King George.
The state of Ascot racecourse on Thursday showed there was no chance of racing on Saturday
A photo from the grandstand posted on Thursday morning showed the famous racecourse looking unrecognisable covered in frost and snow.
And a message accompanying the snap said: “Saturday’s meeting featuring the Howden Long Walk Hurdle has been abandoned.
“The planned inspection was brought forward 24 hours after temps dropped to almost -7C overnight.
“With the same forecast tonight and Friday there is no prospect of the track being raceable by Saturday.”
The devastating cold snap means punters will be starved of a big-race fixture for the second Saturday in a row.
Last week’s Cheltenham card was cancelled with only one British jumps fixture at Southwell taking place.
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Newcastle, Haydock and now Ascot have all abandoned their jumps cards for Saturday with the Arctic blast showing no signs of abating just yet.
ITV Racing will be forced to alter its schedule to show the all-weather Flat action from Chelmsford and Lingfield instead.
Fairyhouse in Ireland will hold a 9am inspection tomorrow to see if their Saturday jumps card can go ahead.
But with the track currently frozen and temperatures -7C it will need a minor miracle for the turf to thaw in time.
Fakenham, Navan and Thurles could still go ahead on Sunday – but Exeter, Ffos Las and Naas are off today and Ascot and Uttoxeter tomorrow.
This cold spell is the latest dagger blow for Ascot, who saw Constitution Hill scratched at the last minute last month on a card ruined by a walkover and withdrawals.
Crazy to think just six months ago a heat warning was issued during Royal Ascot.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels said: “It’s a real shame.
“We know it would’ve taken something special to have gotten it on, but this is the coldest spell that I’ve seen here for a number of years this week.
“It’s a great shame we haven’t been able to get it on as it’s a top-class card.
“It got to -7C last night and on Thursday morning we were still at -6C, so it was a really straightforward decision, we were expecting it.
“The track is still frozen and even the snow that fell on Sunday hasn’t melted away.
“We thought we better not delay the inevitable and wanted to let everybody know as early as possible.”
Nicky Henderson, who trains 7-4 Long Walk favourite Champ, said he had been told the race will go to Kempton on Boxing Day.
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