Temperatures are forecast to remain in double figures at CheltenhamPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Claisse: Cheltenham ground will dry further
WITH the start of the Cheltenham Festival only two days away, clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Sunday that he expects the ground to continue to dry out and the word 'good' to appear in the going description from Monday.
Cheltenham was bathed in early spring sunshine and warmed by temperatures of 16C on Sunday as Claisse reported the going to be good to soft on both the Old Course, used the first two days, and the New Course, used the final two.
However, Claisse is predicting the ground to dry further and said: "Both hurdle tracks and both chase tracks are good to soft. I took the 'soft in places' out of the going description yesterday.
"I will look again at the ground later this afternoon but I am not anticipating changing the going description then. Tomorrow, however, I expect to have ‘good' somewhere in the going description."
Claisse added that with temperatures forecast to remain in double figures next week he would be monitoring conditions on the New Course and said: "The forecast is for dry and warm weather to continue, though it will not be as warm today on Monday and Tuesday. Today's high was due to be 16C, while it is forecast to be 11C on Monday and 13C on Tuesday.
"The condition of the New Course, used on Thursday and Friday, will be monitored throughout the week as it is anticipated to continue to dry out."
On Saturday night, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson issued a joint plea to Claisse not to water the track.
The continued dry weather is viewed as a disadvantage to leading Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Last Instalment and owner Michael O'Leary said on Sunday that a decision on the nine-year-old's participation might be left as late as Friday morning.
O'Leary told At The Races: "It depends on what they are doing with the watering. I was very impressed with Nicky [Henderson] and Paul Nicholls calling for no watering at the course, they are obviously worried about Last Instalment.
"He handles better ground, the issue is with his legs as he has injured two tendons.
"He'll certainly be declared and we might make a decision on Friday morning. We always have First Lieutenant to run in the race if it is not right for Last Instalment."