Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Cheltenham gears up for snow storms

Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse. Photo: Sportsfile
Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse. Photo: Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

While the immediate racing action on both sides of the Irish Sea is affected by the freezing weather, Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse is feeling upbeat with the Festival due to kick off in two weeks' time.

He is expecting cold conditions at Prestbury Park in the coming days, but reports the long-range forecast favourable at this stage.

He said: "Undoubtedly this cold spell of weather that's coming from the east is heading our way.

"Temperatures have been down to -5C so far on the track this week, we expect those to go down to -7C or -8C.

"We've not covered the course because there's some significant snowfall forecast on Thursday and Friday.

"Beyond that, it's looking as though the weather will turn considerably less cold, with rain coming in possibly Sunday or Monday next week with temperatures slowly going upwards."

The freezing weather has cast doubt over tomorrow's Clonmel fixture - with the week's remaining Irish meetings also uncertain.

With temperatures predicted to get as low as -6 tonight - and expected to just get above freezing tomorrow - Clonmel has little chance of racing getting a green light.

Meanwhile, officials at Doncaster and Newbury have their fingers crossed that conditions will give them every chance of staging their two-day fixtures on Friday and Saturday. Both tracks took the precaution of deploying covers last Friday.

"It hangs on the next 12 to 20 hours, really," said clerk of the course Roderick Duncan.

"We could have raced today (Tuesday). We have had the covers down since Friday, but we have the lowest temperature tonight into tomorrow and the risk of snow during that period and a significant low is forecast for the following night."

Irish Independent

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