The Cheltenham Festival is likely to get under way on soft ground on Tuesday – but conditions are expected to improve throughout the week.
Good to soft appeared in the description on Monday afternoon for the first time in a whole, but with up to five millimetres of rain forecast overnight, clerk of the course Simon Claisse expects to find it soft all over when he arrives early on Tuesday morning.
After his wettest winter in over 20 years though, Claisse is pleasantly surprised with conditions.
“We’ve been fortunate, if you think what has happened to the local community in terms of the floods,” he said.
“Prestbury Park has always been a little bit special weather-wise, but having said that it has been the wettest winter I’ve ever had in 21 years here.
“We’ve just had the windows of opportunities in the last fortnight to get everything set up across the whole site.
“I’ve been delighted with the positive comments we’ve had from trainers and jockeys who have walked the course in the last 10 days. The fact it has been mild has helped grass growth and it does look in terrific nick.
“We’re currently soft, good to soft in places for Tuesday on the Old Course, but we’ve had a bit of rain this afternoon and there is up to five millimetres forecast tonight.
“If the forecast is correct I expect us to be racing on soft tomorrow, but after this band it is largely dry for the rest of the week.
“We always keep a fresh strip for the Festival and it makes a huge difference. Around 90 per cent all the way around hasn’t been raced on since last year.”