sport

Newbury happy with Hennessy ground

Conditions at Newbury remain reasonably good after the recent wet spell that has caused waterlogging and flooding in some parts of the country.

Clerk of the course Richard Osgood left the going unchanged as soft, heavy in places at the Berkshire track on Tuesday afternoon.

While drier weather is forecast for the rest of the week, he is turning his attention to protecting the course from the possibility of overnight frosts for the three-day Sportingbet Winter Festival meeting, culminating in the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday.

"We're still the same - soft, heavy in places. We've just had some odd light showers today but it's starting to dry. We've had a nice wind," said Osgood.

"We've covered all take-offs and landings for the weekend plus a little bit down the back straight where it doesn't see the sun that much.

"The forecast looks like we're going to get a frost so that's why I've done that.

"Apart from that, it's all coming good. We've had various people walk the course today and they are all quite happy with how it is."

Newcastle officials remain optimistic they will be able to stage their biggest jumps meeting of the year on Saturday despite being hit by three inches of rain over the last few days.

Clerk of the course James Armstrong reports most of the track to be raceable, but there is waterlogging in places.

With drier weather expected later in the week, however, Armstrong is hoping conditions will improve enough to allow the card, featuring the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle, to go ahead.

"We had a total of 49 millimetres of rain on Monday, which has taken us up to 75mm since Saturday," he said.

"The course has taken it remarkably well, but we are still heavy, waterlogged in places.

"I would say 80% of the track is raceable. There is an area between the two-mile-six and the two-mile-four start that has standing water.

"We are looking at omitting one fence and maybe one hurdle.

"Given a dry 24 hours, hopefully tomorrow we will be in a much better position and from Thursday things are looking drier."

Fairyhouse report no problems as they build up to a top-class weekend of racing featuring three Grade Ones on Sunday.

The fixture has been badly affected by the weather in recent seasons, but general manager Peter Roe has no such concerns this week.

"The forecast is dry now all the way through to Sunday for a cracking weekend's racing," he told At The Races.

"The Met Office are saying it's going to be cold but not severe.

"I think we will be just slightly below freezing at night and up to three or four degrees and we are on fresh ground which will take the frost a lot better."

In other weather-related news, Southwell have been forced to close for at least a month as repairs are carried out to damage caused by recent flooding at the Nottinghamshire venue.

Water rose to as much as seven to nine inches inside some of the buildings, while the surfaces around the racecourse buildings and part of the track remain under water.

Clerk of the course Roderick Duncan said: "We have on-going talks with the Environment Agency and Trent Valley Drainage Board to improve this situation in the future."

Southwell's December fixtures have now been transferred to the fellow ARC-owned tracks of Wolverhampton and Lingfield while the jumps fixture scheduled for December 4 will be offered to other courses through the British Horseracing Authority.

Officials hope to resume racing in January with the drying out and repair process already in progress.