Wall to wall football coverage and live horse racing from around the country are just some of the treats awaiting punters this festive period.
Boxing Day in particular serves up a bumper offering, so if you need some fresh air after the Christmas celebrations – or have a cosy date with the TV remote in mind – you won’t be short of options.
And the great news is that despite heavy rainfall across the UK, much of the racecard this week looks set to go ahead as planned.
Sadly, the Huntingdon meeting on Boxing Day has had to be cancelled due to flood damage on the track, but elsewhere the picture is more positive.
Kempton Park, home to the Christmas Festival on December 26-27 and headlined by the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, looks set to be given the green light with no more rain expected prior to the first race.
At the last ground check on Monday, the GoingStick showed a rating of 6.1 on the chase course and 5.5 on the hurdle course, which both mean footing of soft can be expected.
That’s great news, because the excellent drainage at Kempton there has been a whopping 82 millimetres of rainfall that has fallen in the area in the past 10 days or so. However, Santa has delivered a clear weather forecast for Christmas Eve and Day with dry and occasionally sunny spells a great help to ground staff.
Clerk of the course at Kempton Park, Barney Clifford, has said:
“The lake bend is very soft but otherwise walking the course this morning I would say the soft ground was on the better side, although I’m sure jockeys would say it’s soft.
“But Kempton is like a colander – the water runs right through it. We are forecast a couple of dry days before more rain on Boxing Day night, which with the ground opened up after racing it would deteriorate to softer for the second day.”
|26th & 27th December||Kempton||Soft|
|26th December||Market Rasen||Good to soft|
|26th December||Sedgefield||Soft, Good to soft in places|
|26th & 27th December||Wetherby||Soft|
|26th December||Wincanton||Heavy, soft in places|
|26th & 27th December||Wolverhampton||Standard|
|27th December||Chepstow||Soft, heavy in places|
One of the standout races on Welsh soil during the National Hunt season is the Welsh Grand National, and the early signs suggest that Chepstow is in decent enough fettle ahead of the December 27 date.
This is a meeting that has not fared all that well weather-wise in recent years with three postponements in the last seven attempts, but clerk of the course Libby O’Flaherty is much more optimistic this time around.
“We have missed a lot of the recent heavy rain that has affected some other courses, which is a bit surprising, and the track has coped really well with the jumps meetings this season,” she has said.
“We are currently soft, heavy in places and I think that is roughly how we will be come Friday’s meeting, as we have a maximum of 25mm of rain in the forecast this week with it being pretty much dry on Thursday and Friday, which is very encouraging.”
Parts of the course have not been raced on since October, which is helping conditions stay on the right side of dodgy, and so the hope is that the seven-race meeting – which also includes the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle – will go ahead without any problems.