Forecast rain could help avoid watering at Cheltenham

Weekend rainfall set to ease effects of winter heatwave

  • Wednesday 27 February
  • News
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Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse has already begun selective watering – but is hoping forecast rain means no more will be needed before the Festival.

Claisse admits this week’s unseasonal record high February temperatures started to make him “fret a little bit” and consider imminent further watering.

He expects, however, that the promise of between 35 and 40 millimetres of rain between this weekend and the eve of next month’s Festival ought to ensure good to soft ground in time for day one of four.

Should that forecast not materialise, more watering still remains possible to provide “slow ground”.

Claisse said on Wednesday: “We had 18 degrees here on Monday, and I was beginning to fret a little bit that we would have to be turning the taps on quite soon.

“We have done a little bit of watering – and we started last Thursday putting a couple of millimetres on both chase and hurdle tracks and the cross country to get the fertiliser kicked in.

“If we were racing here today we would be on the quick side of good, and you would probably find a little bit of good to soft out there.”

His mission is to arrange for a surface slightly slower than that by March 12 – and is confident a predicted change in conditions is in Cheltenham’s favour.

“The forecast they have now is that starting Saturday what is called the blocking high is going to move eastwards – and we will be back into normal weather patterns from the west,” Claisse added.

“We could get – and the amount of rainfall has gone up – between 35 and 40 millimetres between Saturday and next Monday week.

“If we got the bottom end of the forecast we could end up good to soft ground.

“If the rains don’t come we will do whatever is necessary to start the meeting on slow good ground – by which we mean good, good to soft or good to soft, good.”

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