The snow at Cheltenham had put the meeting on Saturday in dangerPICTURE: Phil Coates
Cheltenham to inspect again at 7am on Saturday
CHELTENHAM clerk of the course Simon Claisse is not expecting any problems with getting Saturday's meeting on, with the course currently fit for racing, but with more snow forecast he has called another inspection for 7am on Saturday morning.
Claisse has the option of giving the meeting a further 24 hours and running it on Sunday, but is confident he will be able to give the meeting the green light on Saturday morning, if not sooner.
"We are fit to race at the moment, but we’re forecast some snow, followed by rain. Our forecaster doesn’t think we’ll get too much snow, but the more regional forecasters that are broadcast are suggesting the possibility of some heavier snow.
"As a result of that, with that knowledge, it makes sense to call another inspection tomorrow and just check as I think it is reassuring for people to know that we'll look.
"If the snow misses us we’ll give it the go-ahead earlier and we’re not expecting any problems, but it makes sense to take precautions and look. We want to have every base covered."
Imperial Commander (left) returns to the track after 680 daysPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Should the meeting go ahead, a cracking card is in store, with a clash between the two unbeaten chasers Sprinter Sacre and William's Wishes in the Victor Chandler Chase the undoubted highlight. With Sanctuaire and Somersby also in opposition it is sure to be a fascinating race, having been saved from Ascot's card last weekend.
The Grade 1 chase supplements a card that has four Grade 2 races and a Grade 3, as well as two competitive handicaps and the Grade 2 action starts as soon as the meeting gets under way, with Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson contesting the Juvenile Hurdle with Irish Saint and Rolling Star, a trial for the Triumph Hurdle.
Impressive Boxing Day winner Rajdhani Express, Ackertac, Gullinbursti and Johns Spirit are among 13 in the 2m5f handicap, while in the following Grade 3 handicap over the same trip, Gold Cup hopefuls Bold Sir Brian and Katenko are among 16, including top weight Poquelin and the Tim Vaughan-trained Tartak.
The Argento Chase has attracted 12 runners, Tidal Bay among them, with Midnight Chase, Weird Al, Grands Crus, Hunt Ball and Imperial Commander, who returns from a 680-day absence, among the runners.
At Fishers Cross, Coneygree and The New One all line up in the other Grade 2 for novice hurdlers, the Neptune trial, while in the Cleeve Hurdle Oscar Whisky will test himself over 3m again, with Reve De Sivola the main opposition.
The closing handicap hurdle sees the return of Sadler's Risk and Barbatos, while Lord Of House will bid for a third victory in a row since December.