Wolverhampton is the sole survivor as all but one of UK's race meetings are abandoned

Racing fans were starved of action on Saturday with all jump racing abandoned and even the all-weather action at Newcastle called off.

It was perhaps no surprise that racing on turf failed to survive given the cold temperatures, but the news from Newcastle came as a shock, especially as no concern was shown until shortly before the first race. 

That meant Wolverhampton's twilight meeting was the sole surviving fixture.

Explaining the Newcastle situation stipendiary steward Adrian Smith, told Sky Sports Racing: "Concerns had been raised by jockeys and trainers regarding the surface.

"We held the inspection with three trainers, three jockeys, the course executive and veterinary officers and what we found was that the surface is fluffed up but as soon as you go down an inch below that, it appears that the ground is frozen underneath.

"Any moisture that is underneath the surface is frozen, it is very firm underneath. Unanimously, the jockeys and trainers all said that it wasn't safe for horses to race on that ground.

"I spoke to the clerk of the course and asked if they could do any more work and she said they've done everything they possibly can at this point. With the temperature due to get lower as the day goes on, it was a no-brainer. There was just no way of getting round things.

"When you get these kind of temperatures, any moisture you get is just solid. The veterinary officers, the jockeys and trainers were all unanimous that it just wasn't safe to race on. At the end of the day, jockeys' and horses' lives are the most important thing. It's disappointing for everybody, but safety for jockeys and horses is paramount and they come first."

Frost sheets were deployed at Cheltenham after racing on Friday, but as the mercury began to drop it became a race against time.

It took clerk of the course Jon Pullin and his team around three hours to cover the whole of the New Course, which is used for the two-day International meeting, but in the end their efforts were in vain.

"Temperatures were at zero at the last on Friday and then we began to get the covers down, which we did through tremendous effort in three hours," said Pullin.

"As we were laying them the temperatures were a consistent minus 1c/minus 2C and we've been a consistent minus 4C since midnight with a low of minus 5C.

"Unfortunately we have got areas of frozen ground under the covers.

"At least we managed to race on Friday. At this stage no decisions have been made about rescheduling any races."

Doncaster were due to inspect at 9.30am for their meeting but just after 7.30am the decision had already been taken.

Unfortunately groundstaff were unable to get the covers down in time following repairs to the track after racing on Friday and temperatures reached -5C overnight.

Doncaster Racecourse tweeted: "Following overnight temperatures of -5, we moved the inspection forward. The current temperature at the racecourse is - 2.

"Following conversations with meteorologists this morning, there is no expectation of temperatures raising above 0, until 10-11am, with only highs of 1 to 2 forecast with high cloud cover, unfortunately this will not allow for the improvement in the ground required to race safely."

Hereford staged an inspection at 7.30am ahead of their fixture on Saturday but pushed it back until 9.30am, however, there was no prospect of a thaw in time for racing, despite covers being in place for several days.

A tweet from the course read: "Racing is ABANDONED. Temperatures dipped to -6C at day break with shaded parts of the track frozen and insufficient time or temperatures to recover."

Southwell's card on Sunday must pass a 9.30am inspection on raceday while Carlisle's Sunday meeting has already been abandoned.

Racing on Monday is already in doubt at Market Rasen and Plumpton.

Market Rasen will inspect on Sunday at midday with Plumpton having a look 30 minutes later at 12.30pm.

Catterick's meeting on Tuesday is already under threat and officials will inspect at 8am on Monday.

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