‘Large security presence’ in place for start of Cheltenham Festival

Track officials ‘happy’ with measures in place to ensure smooth four days

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Officials at Cheltenham are happy with security measures put in place ahead of arguably the four biggest days of racing on the calendar.

After a spate of unseemly incidents in the summer at racecourses and a recent brawl at Haydock, not to mention the pair of pitch invasions in the Premier League at the weekend, the industry has its fingers crossed the Festival passes without incident.

Two years ago a group of footballers made the headlines for the wrong reasons at the meeting after enjoying themselves too much and since then further measures have been put in place.

An increased police presence, independent security companies and sniffer dogs are all employed.

Ian Renton, regional director of Cheltenham and the South West for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We have a pretty large security presence here for the Festival, both from the police and security companies.

“As people might be aware we cracked down a couple of years ago on the availability of alcohol to try to discourage any excessive drinking.

“We’ll continue with that policy to ensure all our racegoers can come and have a fun time without any sign of rowdiness.

“We don’t want anybody to destroy the enjoyment of anybody else, we’re happy with the measures we have in place and hopefully we’ll have a trouble-free four days.”

With any luck, all the news will be generated by the action on the track and while the course is currently in perfect shape, substantial rain is expected on Tuesday morning, which is set to leave the ground soft.

Speaking in blazing sunshine on Monday afternoon, Renton said: “It would be wonderful if we could have four days like this, but I think we are in for a pretty soggy start to the meeting with 12 millimetres of rain forecast from the early hours of Tuesday up to probably lunchtime.

“I think it will be an uncomfortable start to the meeting before it hopefully dries out and calms down in the afternoon.

“The ground is absolutely perfect at the moment, but if we get the rain which is forecast it will turn soft and probably remain that way for the rest of the meeting.”

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