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Weekend racing under threat as storms continue to batter Britain

| 03.01.2014

There is no sign of a let up in the winter storms that have been battering Britain over the festive period and racing fans may be facing a bleak weekend. Channel 4 was scheduled to cover Sandown and Wincanton on Saturday but the former has already been abandoned and Wincanton faces a morning inspection.

Sandown’s card was to have featured the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle with David Pipe’s The Liquidator set to clash with Ireland’s Upazo. The progressive Josses Hill had been left in by Nicky Henderson with the five-runner field completed by Prince Siegfried, a faller at Ascot last time, and rank outsider Johnny Og.

Other familiar names that had been due to race at Sandown include Deep Trouble (3.00) and Katenko (3.35). Deep Trouble won here in dramatic style last time out, almost unseating Leighton Aspell at the last flight before recovering to hold on gamely.

Katenko was considered a lively outsider for the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season before being side-lined by injury. Trainer Venetia Williams will now seek alternatives for the gelding who could yet feature at Cheltenham and/or Aintree..

Wincanton survived an 11am inspection on Thursday but remains in doubt with further rain forecast on Friday night. The combination of Paul Nicholls and Daryl Jacob could be the team to follow if it gets the go-ahead with four leading chances on a competitive card.

Newcastle are confident of staging their Saturday card with the going reported as soft, heavy in places. The highlight is the St James Place Handicap Hurdle with Circus Star bidding to complete a hat-trick after bolting up at Wetherby.

There are no problems at Lingfield for the all-weather flat card which kicks off at 11.50. Newmarket trainer John Gosden has a terrific strike-rate in recent weeks and has winning chances with Joyful Friend (12.20) and Anglo Irish (12.50).

The Handicap at 2.35 looks wide open with Modernstone and Kashmir Peak among those with chances. Marco Botti has three runners with top weight Energia Eros joined by Halfsin and Grendisar.

The weather picture is not much better on Sunday with the Sussex National at Plumpton already in doubt. Officials will inspect the track at 11am on Saturday but the course is already waterlogged in places.

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Harvey Mayson