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Clerk forecasts dry run for Cheltenham

Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse expects drying conditions over the coming days as the countdown to the 2010 Festival gathers pace.

With 13 days to go until the opening afternoon of the four-day meeting, the going is described as soft, good to soft in places, on both the Old and New Courses.

But with the weather set fair over the next 62 hours, Claisse foreshadows the ground having dried to good to soft, soft in places, by the weekend.

He said: "Things are changing out there and it is due to be dry until the weekend.

"There is no real rain forecast until the weekend after next, which is a long way off for these forecasts."

A bitterly cold winter has left Claisse slightly behind in his preparation of the turf, with the snow on nearby Cleeve Hill, only melting in recent days, having hugged the tops since Christmas.

"We have now had the coldest winter for 31 years. The grass doesn't like these temperatures much and we are a couple of weeks behind where we were this time last year," he said.

"We had minus 5C last night and the nights are remaining cold, which means we aren't seeing a great deal of growth so we are going to add a liquid feed to encourage growth for two weeks' time."