I have a friend who was born in Wales and likes to spend his Christmas holiday with relatives… enjoying their company, sure.

But a turf racing fan, he’s always used his trips to the U.K. as an excuse to bet racing. This year, thanks to the horrible winter storms in Europe, almost every turf racing facility, where he goes in particular is closed down. He texted me the other day and said prospects of turf racing before Christmas look bleak as the second big freeze of the winter continues to bite.

The only card remaining before Christmas is at Sedgefield. “We had minus 6C overnight and it’s minus 3C today,” said the clerk of the course Charlie Moore. “We’re still going to have a look at 8am, but we’re obviously up against it. “There is some warm air arriving later in the week, but it looks like it’s going to come too late for us.” The other remaining jumps fixtures before Christmas – at Hereford tomorrow, Musselburgh and Ludlow on Wednesday – have all fallen by the wayside.

Damn it, my friend “tweeted” to me. Even the programme on the Polytrack at Wolverhampton is subject to inspection, with the track unraceable this past weekend due to extreme temperatures at the Midlands course.

Clerk of the course Fergus Cameron said: “There were three to four inches of snow here yesterday and temperatures dropped to just below minus 14C last night. “At the present time,” he said, “the track is unraceable.”

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