Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Punchestown braced for wet week

Punchestown action

Punchestown general manager Richie Galway is bracing himself for a week of heavy rain ahead of the opening day of the Festival.

The County Kildare track is set to host five days of top-class action as the National Hunt season draws to a close, but conditions are already described as soft, soft to heavy in places ahead of the opening card on Tuesday. There is plenty more rain forecast over the next few days and Galway is praying the course gets the lower end of the estimated amounts.

"It's going to be testing ground and unfortunately, the weather has turned against us," said Galway.

"We've had 30 millimetres of rain in the last week and 11 millimetres of that fell during Sunday. We've had another three millimetres so far today and the forecast is unpredictable, but very unsettled.

"We're forecast heavy showers. How much we'll get is hard to say, but the MET Office's best guess is five millimetres. Tuesday night through until Thursday night is again hard to gauge, but we could get anything between 20 and 50 millimetres."

Given the amount of rain forecast, there have to be concerns about whether the entire Festival will be able to take place, but Galway is keen to take things a day at a time at this stage.

"We're obviously going to monitor things very closely," he continued.

"I haven't seen Punchestown have many problems for a long time, but the forecast is very unstable and we're just going to have to see how much rain we actually get. We have fresh ground on the hurdle track, which is a big advantage and the chase track is wide enough that we can have fresh ground on that each day as well if needed.

"We're just going to have to see what happens."

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