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Down Royal and Leopardstown put on ice

Down Royal's meeting on Boxing Day has been postponed until Thursday, December 30.

The track is currently covered by between four to five inches of snow, with forecasts suggesting the thaw may not come as early as anticipated.

Purchased tickets for Boxing Day's fixture are valid next Thursday

And the strong likelihood of a slower-than-expected thaw materialising over the weekend that has already claimed the big Boxing Day meeting at the Maze is also threatening a postponement of the same afternoon's glittering Leopardstown card. Officials at Leopardstown aresounding a warning about Sunday's fare with no sign of a let-up in the Arctic conditions.

“The thaw is coming a bit later than was forecast — it could be delayed now until the second half of Christmas Day, so we're concerned at the moment about racing going ahead on St Stephen's Day,” explained general manager Tom Burke, who has vast experience of such situations at the Dublin course.

“It's a wait-and-see situation and we'll have to take it day by day.”

Severe night frosts countrywide are set to persist until later this week with no meaningful rise in daytime temperatures until Sunday at the earliest.

However, such a scenario would probably suffice for Limerick to beat the weather, according to manager Russell Ferris, who reports that they have escaped the snow completely and that the frost hasn't yet penetrated their ground to any great extent.

“Patches of the track are frozen, but it's only an inch into the ground and hasn't penetrated the soil, although it's minus four this afternoon,” he said.

Across the water, Kempton are keeping their hopes up they will be able to host the King George on Sunday, even though Towcester have already called off their meeting for the same afternoon.

Kempton clerk of the course Barney Clifford must now worry mainly about the weather forecast after a peek under the covers on the jumps course revealed good news.

Clifford has kept the grass under wraps for some days now in an attempt to thwart the cold in time for the King George VI Chase on St Stephen's Day.

“I had a look with some of the jockeys, including Sam Thomas, and the ground is perfectly raceable,” said Clifford. “As a going report, I would say it is just on the slow side of good.

“Now we've got the other problems to deal with, such as the snow, but I would say at least half the volume of snow has melted. We're taking the same approach of taking it day by day.”

With the snow-covered Towcester being abandoned yesterday, Market Rasen will today have a noon inspection to see if they can proceed on Sunday.

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