Soft going anticipated for start of Cheltenham Festival

By Sports Desk February 27, 2024

Officials at Cheltenham expect the Festival to get underway on close to soft ground, with the start of the showpiece meeting now only a fortnight away.

Like much of the country, Prestbury Park has endured a predominantly wet winter, but a rare dry weekend has given clerk of the course Jon Pullin reason for optimism.

“As everyone will be very well aware, we’ve had a very wet build up this year,” he said on Tuesday.

“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.”

While further rain is forecast in the coming days, Pullin is not expecting a huge swing in conditions either way ahead of day one of the Festival on March 12.

He added: “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.

“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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