Cheltenham racecourse endured one of the wettest winters on record this year, with the previous two meetings cancelled in unprecedented circumstances. The New Years Day meeting and Festival Trails Day were both called off due a water-logged course following winter storms the deluged Gloucestershire in December and January.
While it is likely that flooding issues at the racecourse will only grow in the coming years with wetter winters expected due to climate change, fortunately February has been largely dry and the course has dried out significantly.
At the moment ground staff are expecting the ground to be good to soft and soft in places for all courses; the old course, new course and cross-country.
Good To Soft, Soft In Places
Simon Claisse, the clerk of the course, pointed out that track was flooded three times across a 25 day period, something he has not witnessed in 20 years working there, however, eight dry days since has left the ground in decent condition at this stage.
With no racing having taken place at Cheltenham since the International Meeting in December organisers are hoping for good ground to lift the fortunes of the course. The last thing they will want to do is have to skip fences or risk horses and jockeys this year.
Claisse expects the ground to be good to soft but can’t yet determine if that will be followed by good in places or soft in places. The forecast next week for Cheltenham is mixed with some dry days over this weekend into Monday and days with light rain from Tuesday up to the start of the festival.
No significant rainfall is expected however and so it is a reasonable expectation for the ground to be good to soft, most likely soft in places given the temperature remains seasonal and there will be a lot of cloud that will limit how much the course will dry out.
It is still a little way out to be looking at the weather for specific days of the Cheltenham Festival, although we can say that the week will be unsettled and changeable. Therefore, mostly dry with some light rain and probably a little sun creeping through every now and again – not that that will be so important to fans this year with no one allowed to attend the course due to the restrictions that remain in place until May. Temperature wise we will be looking at the 10 degrees Celsius region for most days.