sport

Battle on to beat the weather

Officials at Sandown, Ffos Las and Wetherby are all fighting to beat the bad weather and get the racing show on the road.

The prospect of jumps racing going ahead at any of the three scheduled meetings in the UK on Saturday remain in the balance after further rain arrived as expected on Friday.

Officials at Sandown, Ffos Las and Wetherby are doing all they can to get their respective fixtures on, but all are subject to early morning inspections.

The crunch time at Ffos Las, where the going is heavy, is a precautionary look at 7.30am.

Clerk of the course Tim Long is "optimistic" the track's big jumps meeting of the season, featuring the Welsh Champion Hurdle and West Wales National, both sponsored by Burns Pet Nutrition, will survive.

"We've had 15 millimetres of rain through today and it stopped raining shortly after 4pm," said Long.

"The forecast for us now was clear spells as we go into the night and the chance of an odd light shower. Then going into tomorrow morning a showery picture, but none of the heavy stuff we had today, and showers with us from about 9am to 10am.

"We're optimistic, although obviously we're wet now after this spell of rain but we should have quite a dry night to percolate through."

Officials at Wetherby were expecting the rain to stop by midnight at the latest, which would give the course chance to start drying out before a precautionary inspection at 8am.

The Grade Two totepool Towton Novices' Chase is the highlight of the scheduled card and the ground was described as soft, heavy in places.

"It started raining about 1pm and up to 4pm we'd had about 6mm of rain," said clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson.

"The rain is fairly hard and the amounts are building up. We're still on course for an 8am inspection. If the forecast is right it should finish raining between 10pm and midnight then we've got 12 to 13 hours for it to drain as well."

Heavy rain was expected at Sandown from mid-afternoon until midnight with officials at the Esher track having already taken the step of abandoning the hurdles races in the hope of staging a six-race all-chase card.

However, that will have to pass a 7.45am inspection as the ground is described as heavy, soft in the back straight.

"We are forecast up to 15mm of rain from mid-afternoon until around midnight," said clerk of the course Andrew Cooper.

"An inspection is the sensible thing to do. We will take stock in the morning of what's happened and where we are. There are some areas of the chase course that are vulnerable and would benefit from the lesser end of the forecast rain.

"I think we've done what we can to get some sport on and we need a bit of luck with the rain to come."

No problems were envisaged at Sunday's sole British jumps programme at Musselburgh where the going was reported as good to soft on Friday afternoon.