Freeze a 'big problem' for race venues like Market Rasen

​Four-time champion jockey Richard Johnson has said the current big freeze which is decimating horse racing meetings in Britain is a ‘big problem’ for the sport.
Market Rasen had to cancel last Friday's meeting.Market Rasen had to cancel last Friday's meeting.
Market Rasen had to cancel last Friday's meeting.

High-profile meetings at Ascot for the Clarence House Chase and at Haydock for the Peter Marsh Chase this weekend have fallen victim to the freezing weather that has swept across the country over the past ten days.

In Lincolnshire, Friday's meeting at Market Rasen fell victim to the cold snap and while Johnson revealed that courses take cancellations into consideration perhaps once a season, when it becomes two or three then it becomes a bigger concern - especially for smaller tracks.

Speaking to The Winners Enclosure, Johnson said: “Most courses expect to lose maybe a fixture a year.

“Some may have lost two or three meetings recently and that is a big problem for them. They are businesses and if you suddenly lose say two or three fixtures out of maybe 15 or 16 a year, you can imagine the financial hit.

“The weather has a knock on effect throughout the industry.”

With the Cheltenham Festival on the horizon in March, many trainers will be fine tuning their star runners ahead of the biggest week in horse racing at Prestbury Park.

Superstars such as Jonbon, El Fabiolo and Constitution Hill have seen their preparations for Cheltenham hit by the recent poor weather and Johnson has admitted it is very disappointing.

He added: “January has these big Saturday fixtures and from a jockey’s point of view if you’ve got nice horses to ride and you're missing out, that makes it worse.

“Trainers with top horses will have pin-pointed one of these weekends – whether for example it’s Ascot or Lingfield - to run probably its final race before the Cheltenham Festival.

“It is frustrating because people – especially with the good horses – are planning three or four races in a season before Cheltenham.