HAYDOCK Park races has been cancelled this weekend following the freezing temperatures of the last few days.

With a surge of Arctic air bringing snowy showers and icy temperatures to much of St Helens, an inspection of Haydock Park racecourse has resulted in the Sky Bet Peter Marsh Chase Day being abandoned.

The Chase Day was due to take place on Saturday, January 20, but an early morning inspection today has resulted in the event being abandoned due to a frozen track.

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Clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright had called an 8am inspection on Friday, but he was able to make an earlier decision after another cold night in Merseyside.

He said: “We got down to minus 3C overnight, so we were still going backwards last night. The track is frozen now and will still be frozen tomorrow afternoon.

“We’ve run out of time, we’ve got to the point where there’s no hope so we had to make a decision.”

Racecourse bosses were initially optimistic that warmer temperatures would help to thaw the track, there is said no be "no prospect of enough improvement to the course before racing on Saturday".

Ticket holders will be refunded automatically and hospitality bookers set to be contacted in due course.

Speaking about the cancellation, former four-time champion jockey Richard Johnson said: "At this time of year it is very disappointing. 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 or Haydock - to run probably its last race before Cheltenham.  

"It is frustrating because people – especially with the good horses – are planning three or four races in a season before Cheltenham.- Jockeys want to be riding all the time and riding winners.

"We have lost a lot through water logging or frost but we are realistic that we are probably going to have a few days when the weather gets in the way.

"Most courses expect to lose maybe a fixture a year. Some may have lost two or three 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."