Cold snap claims day one of Winter Million weekend at Lingfield

The first day of Lingfield's Winter Million weekend on Friday has been abandoned.

With temperatures reaching below minus 6C at the course on Monday night through Tuesday morning, an early bulletin had stressed the track needed fortune to be on their side for the first of their three-day meeting to go ahead - and following a 4.45pm inspection racing was abandoned due to a hard frost with limited improvement and the further poor forecast.

Friday's card was set to feature the £110,000 Sovereign Handicap Hurdle and the £50,000 Class 2 Godstone Chase - a handicap run over two miles and the British Horseracing Authority and Lingfield have acted quickly to add these two races to Sunday's fixture.

The final day of the meeting, which also hosts the weekend's flagship Fleur De Lys Chase, will now be a nine-race card and officials are cautiously optimistic rising temperatures over the weekend will allow both Saturday's all-weather card and Sunday's action on the turf to go ahead.

"We're heavily frozen in places today and the reality is we got to 1C today for about four hours and we'll have another hard frost tonight and the next couple of nights," said George Hill, clerk of the course for Lingfield.

"The forecast basically has no chance of improving before Friday so we felt as a team in conjunction with the BHA that the best course of action would be to save the best two races from Friday and put them on Sunday to make that a nine-race card.

"We'll obviously need improvement in the forecast, but at least there is scope for the forecast to improve on Saturday into Sunday, where we kind of know what the forecast is for the next 48 to 72 hours - we're fairly confident what that forecast is."

He continued: "It gives us the best chance of saving as many races in the current situation we are faced with and the latest challenge of the weather.

"If we can manage to get Sunday on and Saturday's all-weather Flat card as well, which will be a good day, then at least it will be a decent nine-race card with a hell of a lot of prize-money up for grabs. It's not really what we wanted but it's the best of the bad situation we are in."

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