Empiracle: will only run in the Champion Bumper if the ground suitsPICTURE: Getty Images
Cheltenham unlikely to water before festival
CHELTENHAM clerk of the course Simon Claisse on Tuesday cast doubt on the likelihood of having to water before the festival after a revised weather forecast predicted rain in the lead-up to the meeting.
Claisse said the rate the track was drying out had slowed and that the going remained a mix of soft and good to soft on the Old, New and Cross Country course.
"I had an update yesterday from John Kettley, who is suggesting that from Thursday of next week until the beginning of the festival there will be rain," he said.
"His range was between 12 and 15mm, more on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday than on the Thursday and Friday. It's still a long way out to be certain, but on the basis of that forecast I could confidently rule out watering."
Weatherbys Champion Bumper joint-favourite Empiracle is one horse whose bid is very much ground-dependent and trainer Jeremy Scott has warned punters to hold off backing the six-year-old until the race.
Empiracle won his only start at Huntingdon in October but is regarded in the same league as the stable's Melodic Rendezvous, a leading fancy for the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
"I have always left it relatively open," Scott said on Tuesday. "He wants ground no softer than good to soft, so if it did happen to tip with rain I would sidestep Cheltenham."
Empiracle shares the head of Coral and William Hill's market with Golantilla on 7-1 and Scott added: "Personally I wouldn't back him at those odds. I would wait to see if the horse turns up."