Snow-go for Leopardstown
Fresh snowfalls at Leopardstown yesterday resulted in the scheduled second session of their traditional four-day Christmas festival being called off.
It is now hoped that the fixture will undergo a delayed start next Tuesday, resting on a thaw before Monday morning's inspection.
Whether the Lexus Chase card can eventually kick-start the meeting on Tuesday remains in the lap of the gods, with general manager Tom Burke reporting that there was a covering of snow about a foot deep lying on the Foxrock course.
“We will be inspecting on Monday morning prior to the declaration deadline (10am) to see whether we can race on Tuesday. It's been unbelievable here this morning — we got between two and three inches of more snow,” he reported.
“We're doing our best to clear the snow from the enclosure, with three JCBs working on site today.
“The last time we suffered like this was in 1995 when we just managed to race on the one day — December 31.”
Horse Racing Ireland's contingency plan to try and ensure the biggest races will somehow be staged at the Dublin track next week has been implemented, with Monday's Paddy Power-sponsored session moved to Wednesday.
The main events on that particular programme are being augmented by the leading Irish bookmaking firm, which is now also backing the Grade One Festival Hurdle, in which Hurricane Fly and Solwhit could be meeting for the fourth time in their careers.
Despite the ongoing Arctic weather, last year's Lexus Chase principals What A Friend and Money Trix — plus 2006 scorer The Listener — are all expected to travel from England, with their connections fully briefed about HRI's determination to save this highlight of the festival.
“Money Trix is travelling over today from the Nicky Richards stable and Nick Mitchell will be heading here too with The Listener, but Paul Nicholls wasn't planning to send What A Friend until St Stephen's Day,” added Burke.
Down in Limerick, where frost rather than snow has claimed their Sunday meeting, manager Russell Ferris is banking on a meaningful thaw from tomorrow onwards to allow them survive a Sunday morning inspection.
“It's 50/50 at the moment whether we can race next Monday,” he explained.
“We're keeping our fingers crossed that the frost will come out of the ground, which is snow-free, but it was minus 10 here overnight and it will be well below zero again tonight.”