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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Weekend tracks on weather watchHeadlines
Cinders And Ashes (left) and Trifolium

Racing is praying for a respite from the wet weather ahead of a big weekend at Newbury and Newcastle.

Conditions at both tracks currently have heavy in the going description, but the north east venue has been having the worst of the rain. Newcastle are set to stage their biggest meeting of the National Hunt season on Saturday, featuring what looks set to be a fantastic renewal of the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle. However, the course has been hit by more than 50 millimetres of rain in recent days.

"Since midnight we've had another inch of rain, so that's well over 50 millimetres in the last three days," clerk of the course James Armstrong said on Monday afternoon.

"It's certainly beginning to take its toll. There is water beginning to sit on all sorts of places. At the moment we are heavy, waterlogged in places. According to the forecast we are looking at another 10-15mm up to the early hours of the morning then it clears up.

"We will have a proper assessment in the morning and see how it is draining away. It looks as if from tomorrow things will improve, but I'm not ruling out sharp showers rolling in off the east coast. Then we might have the added problem of temperatures dropping away towards the end of the week, not particularly severe but something we are keeping an eye on."

The situation at Newbury ahead of the three-day Sportingbet Winter Festival meeting, culminating in the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday, is not as bad. The going remained unchanged on Monday afternoon as soft, heavy in places.

Clerk of the course Richard Osgood said: "Ground wise, we are still the same. We had 6.5mm of rain overnight and we are due some light rain possibly getting heavier towards dawn then after that clearing up. Towards the end of the week the forecast is for it to get dry, but colder. I am covering take-offs and landings and then we will see what it looks like as we get closer towards the end of the week."

Fairyhouse are also due to stage a big two-day meeting at the weekend. General manager Peter Roe does not expect any problems at the Irish venue.

"We've had a good drying day today and it is forecast to be mainly dry between now and the weekend, so I'm very confident we'll be racing," he said on Monday afternoon.

"The ground is heavy but we're raceable. I'd imagine it will heavy for the next couple of days as we've taken a good soaking. It should be cracking racing all weekend and I'm very bullish about the meeting going ahead."

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