Cheltenham set for another windy Wednesday after rain hits track on Tuesday
Wind caused the second day of the 2008 Cheltenham Festival to be cancelled but although similarly strong gusts of up to 50 miles per hour could hit the track on Wednesday, course officials are showing no signs of anxiety.
Strong winds blew at Cheltenham on Sunday, providing a taste of what is to come. Before that, persistent rain is due to fall before racing on Tuesday, when clerk of the course Simon Claisse believes the meeting will open on soft ground.
Conditions on Sunday were reported to be good to soft, soft in places after 5mm of overnight rain.
Outlining what may be to come, Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst said: "In the Cheltenham area our model shows westerly gusts from 6am on Wednesday of around 40 miles per hour. That then picks up to around 50 miles per hour from midday.
"It then comes down slowly through the day, so that by 6pm it should be down to 35 miles per hour. The confidence is quite high we will see the windy weather."
Playing down the wind threat, Claisse said: "The significant difference between what we're expecting this year compared to windy Wednesday in 2008 was on that occasion the wind was from the south-east. That came unprotected smack into the temporary structures. We can be sheltered from westerly winds by the Malverns.
"Gusts are notoriously difficult to predict, but based on the average winds we're forecast it's all systems go."
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson has just completed his annual pre-Festival Sunday morning @CheltenhamRaces course walk. He reports the track to be in great condition but the rain and wind in the forecast are both on his mind. pic.twitter.com/70OY8BPz47— Racing Post (@RacingPost) March 10, 2019
Turning his attention to the ground, Claisse added: "The balance is only just in favour of good to soft. We do expect it to dry out on Monday but there are strong signals for a belt of rain on Tuesday morning bringing up to 12mm, so I'm still suggesting we'll be starting on soft ground.
"The expectation is with showers forecast the ground will stay much the same, except perhaps when we open up fresh ground for the Gold Cup."
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