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Cheltenham braced for very challenging weather conditions

By Michael Verney

Cheltenham officials have called a precautionary 8.00am inspection, and announced a contingency to postpone today's card until Saturday, as a forecast for high winds threatens the Festival.

The course is braced for "challenging" weather conditions on day two of the showpiece meeting, with winds predicted to reach a peak of over 45 miles per hour.

Ian Renton, director for the south-west region of the Jockey Club, said: "Strong gusting winds are forecast for the area on Wednesday, but their precise strength and location are not possible to predict in advance.

"We are currently looking at forecasts of gusts in excess of 45mph, which may present challenges out on the track and around the site, dependent on their direction.

"We will therefore do a precautionary inspection at 8am (today)."

Renton also confirmed provisional rescheduling plans.

"While our focus is to race, should the weather conditions not allow this we would stage the whole of Wednesday's card on Saturday," he said.

"This would allow for all seven scheduled races to be restaged to provide participants with their opportunity to race at the Festival, and with originally advertised conditions, which would not be possible in the two remaining days."

The forecast provides an uncomfortable late reminder of similar conditions which struck on the same day 11 years ago and caused the cancellation of racing.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase and other high-profile races were instead run later in the week, added to the Thursday and Friday cards.

Renton added: "We remain optimistic and we will assess the situation in the morning, working with our team, forecasters, the British Horseracing Authority and our Safety Advisory Group, in order to make a decision about whether racing goes ahead as planned.

"It's important to let customers and participants know the exact situation as it stands."

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse had said earlier in the day: "We wanted to give an early insight into conditions as the forecast is looking challenging with strong, gusting winds throughout the day.

"We are continually monitoring the situation and will keep racegoers informed as the conditions present themselves."

Belfast Telegraph


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