Cheltenham expecting soft going for Festival

Cheltenham's clerk of the course Jon Pullen is optimistic that there is 'nothing scary in the forecast at the moment' and anticipates a soft going description for the start of the Festival in two weeks' time.

Racecourse : Cheltenham
Racecourse : Cheltenham Picture: (Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

"As everyone will be very well aware, we've had a very wet build-up this year," he said, during a media event organised by the Jockey Club.

"Thankfully, the rain held off over the weekend and it's the first 48 hours of dry weather we've had for a number of weeks, which has allowed us to at least get on and start to mow this week, which was very much needed, so I'm pleased that we got that window.

"We'd be soft ground, as you can imagine with the rain that we've had, and the cross country would be heavy in places as well."

The Met Office describes the long-range forecast between the 3rd of March and the commencement of the Festival on the 12th of March as 'a typical mixture of conditions', which will give Pullen optimism.

"The forecast for the next seven to 10 days remains unsettled. Thursday looks as if it could be quite wet, but apart from that it's just little bits and pieces," he added.

"We'll see how we go, but if that forecast remains, we'll have similar ground to what we do now for the start of the Festival, I would imagine.

"There's nothing scary I'm seeing in the forecast at the moment. We've been fortunate we've been a lot milder this year than last and the grass covering has been good.

"We did put a bit of fleece down on the New course in the home straight for a couple of weeks, just to kickstart the recovery there, but the grass is looking really well after the cut this morning, so we're pleased with where we are at this stage."

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