Dry day at Cheltenham but going could be partly heavy by Sunday
Cheltenham had just one and a half millimetres of rain overnight on Wednesday into Thursday and the going remains soft, good to soft in places on all three courses, but significant rainfall is on the way and heavy could feature in the going description by Sunday.
While Thursday was dry, the end of the week is still expected to be much wetter before the weather improves again at the start of next week.
Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Thursday: "It was dry on Wednesday and after just one and a half millimetres overnight it was dry again through today, so I'm leaving the going as it was, and the same on the Old, New and Cross-Country courses.
"However, the rain coming on Friday and Saturday could amount to around 14mm in total by Sunday, and if that's the case we may go soft, heavy in places for a bit. Then Monday and Tuesday are looking pretty dry."
The most notable absentee from the six-day forfeits revealed on Thursday lunchtime for day two of the festival was Hollowgraphic, who was ante-post second favourite for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
His trainer Willie Mullins, who still has six of the 25 left in the race, explained: "I was just not happy with Hollowgraphic after his last piece of work."
The remaining Mullins six-strong team are headed by Blackbow, who is a best-priced 11-2 shot with William Hill. However, the principal mover in Hollowgraphic's absence was Tornado Flyer, another from the stable, whose odds were slashed from 20-1 in a place to a more general 8-1 or 10-1 (12-1 with Ladbrokes).
There were no shocks among the ten acceptors for the Queen Mother Champion Champion Chase, and while Mullins has left in Un De Sceaux as well as Douvan and Min he has reiterated that the Ryanair, which he won last year, remains the target.
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