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Cheltenham confident about International card despite snow covering track

Cheltenham, which races on Friday and stages its Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and Unibet International Hurdle card on Saturday, was covered in 25mm of snow on Monday morning, but clerk of the course Simon Claisse remains optimistic the meeting will beat the freeze.

The snowfall was expected by Claisse, who on Sunday had little reason to be concerned about the fixture taking place, pointing out vulnerable areas were covered last week, while ground not used since April was also offering protection.

That view had not changed on Monday when Claisse said: "If the forecast turns out to be right we should get there. We've measured in our rain gauge 40mm of precipitation, which is a mixture of snow and rain. A lot of that snow is still sitting on the track and that's going to thaw with the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, so conditions will get softer yet."

Going on the three tracks in use this weekend – chase, hurdle and cross-country – are described as good to soft, soft in places and temperatures are due to remain low on Monday and Tuesday before rising later in the week.

The colder weather that has hit Britain recently and forced a number of inspections and abandonments is due to return at the weekend, however.

"We're frost-free Tuesday and Wednesday nights with temperatures getting to 5C/6C on Wednesday and Thursday with some rain," added Classise, whose forecasts suggest no more snow will fall this week.

"Looking at our current forecast, we might be looking at covering the track Friday night for Saturday, but 95 per cent of what we're running on on Friday hasn't been raced on since April. It's better protected with the grass than frost covers.

"We covered our vulnerable areas – where the November course crosses the December one – by Thursday, but there's no frost anywhere in the ground at the moment. Once we have this mild interlude midweek it's set to get cold and dry."

 

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