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Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Thursday, 23 December 2010

Welsh National meeting at Chepstow delayed by snow

Chepstow Racecourse
Chepstow had four inspections before the 2009 Welsh National

Venue: Chepstow Racecourse Date: Saturday, 8 January First race: 1305 GMT
Coverage: Exclusively live on BBC TWO & online, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Wales

The Welsh National meeting at Chepstow has been postponed because snow still covers the two-mile track and freezing temperatures are forecast.

The 27 December meeting has officially been abandoned and the entire card put back to run on Saturday, 8 January.

Welsh racing's showcase was cancelled in 1996 but Chepstow chiefs have agreed to delay the meeting by 12 days after a noon inspection on Thursday.

The course was covered by frost sheets but 10 centimetres of snow lies on top.

Chepstow's protective fleece, which has covered the entire 30-acre Welsh track for the last week, is covered in snow.

And as the sheets cannot be removed due to the amount of snow, with no sign of a thaw over Christmas, officials have been forced to postpone the whole meeting.

Chepstow were due to race on Sunday, 9 January anyway but have exchanged places in the racing calendar with Sedgefield.

"We won't race on Monday and the card will take place on Saturday, January 8," said clerk of the course Keith Ottesen.

"We've got a slot for some races to be televised on the BBC that day. It's great to get the race saved - as long as the weather is all right."

Chepstow Racecourse have confirmed that tickets bought for the 27 December meet will still be valid for 8 January.

The Welsh National was delayed in 1994 but the meet was moved to Newbury on New Year's Day.

Tom O'Brien celebrates after riding Dream Alliance
Tom O'Brien celebrates after riding Dream Alliance to Welsh victory

Last year's Welsh National required four on-the-day inspections due to ground frost before local horse Dream Alliance won the three-mile-five-furlong marathon.

So this is the first time in the Welsh National has been postponed and kept at Chepstow since the meeting became a Christmas time fixture in 1979.

Chepstow track officials were initially optimistic that the long-term weather forecast over Christmas would allow the snow and ground frost to thaw.

But the most recent advice from their meteorologist suggests the freezing weather is set to continue until Boxing Day and plunged Welsh racing's "pinnacle" meet into doubt.

Chepstow Racecourse bosses called a Thursday Welsh National inspection on Wednesday which has subsequently led to the meeting being called off due to a combination of frost and heavy snow.

"Coral Welsh National Day at Chepstow is always a tremendous occasion," Tony Kelly, group managing director of Northern Racing, said.

"Not only is it valued by all in jump racing, it is also a major sporting event in Wales generating widespread racing interest.

"Consequently, it is great news that...we at Northern Racing have been able to rearrange our fixtures and find a new Saturday date for the race.

"Everyone involved has worked quickly to make the new arrangements possible, and we are now looking forward to a great day's racing on Saturday, 8 January."

The biggest problem for Chepstow is clearing the snow off the giant sheets that are protecting the entire two-mile track.

And Chepstow's general manager Richard Holland acknowledged on Monday: "Having a fleece across both tracks is a lot of fleece with a lot of snow lying across it - so to lift that would be virtually impossible and would take a huge army of men and a great deal of time to remove."

Silver By Nature, runner-up last year to Dream Alliance, tops the Welsh National weights while Jim Dreaper's 2008 champion Notre Pere and ante-post favourite Synchronised are also ready to race in Wales' big meeting.

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see also
Cold disrupts Welsh festive sport
28 Dec 10 |  Wales
Snow problems continue for sport
28 Dec 10 |  Sport Homepage
McCoy admits Welsh National dream
22 Dec 10 |  Horse Racing
Silver By Nature tops Welsh list
08 Dec 10 |  Horse Racing
Welsh winner boasts Grand dream
29 Dec 09 |  Horse Racing
Dream Alliance wins Welsh honours
28 Dec 09 |  Horse Racing
Notre Pere jumps to Chepstow win
27 Dec 08 |  Horse Racing
Miko wins Welsh National thriller
27 Dec 07 |  Horse Racing
Halcon claims Welsh National win
27 Dec 06 |  Horse Racing
L'Aventure takes Welsh honours
27 Dec 05 |  Horse Racing
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing

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