It's a age since there was any northern racing to report on, and over five weeks since we saw any action in Scotland. The has been a thaw in recent days and Musselburgh hold out hope of a resumption on Friday. That hope is tempered by the fact that temperatures haven't risen as much as expected and it looks touch and go for the Friday meeting***. Looking at the forecast temperatures it could be a freeze on Thursday night that scuppers the meeting. However, presuming Wetherby goes down the pan then Musselburgh are programmed to step in with an additional card on Saturday, with Channel 4 coverage likely. Here's hoping that the thaw sets in sufficiently well as the planned card looks quite decent with a Class 2 Handicap Hurdle as the feature event.
Keeping up with a few stables on line gives us a clue as to how stables see their way through the cold spell. Nick Alexander's blog at http://kinneston.blogspot.com/ gives a fascinating insight into the way a small set up battles against the odds. When the tractor couldn't cope with the snow drifts family Alexander set to shifting the snow, thus allowing the stable's inmates to do a steady 5 or 6 miles cantering a day to keep them ticking over. Meanwhile, just across Loch Leven at Arlary, Lucinda Russell has kept her string ticking over on the sand with a view to putting an edge on prospective runners once there's a little more warmth. Word from her website ( http://www.lucindarussell.com/ ) is that she was chivvying Musselburgh's management regarding conditions of contests to be staged on Saturday. Pictures from the Alexander and Russell strings show horses with frosted whiskers and manes in the bitter weather of recent days, with Russell's Seeking Straight looking particularly like an equine Santa Claus!
In the Borders James Ewart ( http://www.jamesewartracing.com/ ) has managed keep enough areas clear to gallop on either peat or the snow. He's another who has kept his string ticking over with a view to 'finishing' them ready to run once the temperatures rise. Ewart had hit decent form before the bad weather arrived and it must have been very frustrating for a flying string to be stopped in it's tracks. Take a look at the Ewart website to see more images of horses exercising in 'the freezing bitter'.
My thanks to the on-line presence of the above three trainers for supplying a little background into coping with severe weather.
Assuming Musselburgh goes ahead I shall be at Saturday's meeting though I can't make it on Friday. I'll do the usual round-up for whatever racing takes place. My commitment to this on-line endeavour is a bit up in the air at the moment since I am being made redundant in mid-February. What exactly that means as far racegoing and reporting is concerned I haven't a clue at the moment, much depending on what future employment I can secure. It may be that I can devote more time to the sport and wouldn't I just like to..., but we'll see how things work out!
*** An inspection will be held at 8 a.m. on Thursday to determine prospects for Friday's meeting.