Claisse considering watering if rain fails to materialise
Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse might water in order to ensure that the track's three-day Open Meeting starts on ground on the slow side of good.
"There's no change to the forecast, with up to 10 or 12 millimetres expected prior to racing on Friday, mostly on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, and bits and pieces perhaps over the next two days," said Claisse. "They are then talking about four or five millimetres on Friday afternoon and a couple more on Saturday.
"We might do some selective watering on the quickest bits of the track on Monday to stop them reverting to good to firm, but that's all until we see what comes on Tuesday night.
"If it doesn't materialise we might well consider irrigating again on Wednesday and Thursday. We are aiming for the slow side of good, and as we change tracks for December, I'm not anxious about watering."
Friday's six-race Countryside Day has attracted 136 entries, including Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Ballyandy in the opening Grade 2 novice hurdle. The Albert Bartlett Hurdle third and fourth, Champers On Ice and Barters Hill, are both entered in the 2m4f novice chase, where they could be joined by former Coral Cup winner Aux Ptits Soins.
The 2m4f veterans' chase, which was introduced to replace the cross-country course when it became clear that the ground in Cheltenham's infield would be too quick, has attracted 13 entries, including dual Grand National fourth Alvarado.
The weights look set to be headed by Harry Fry's Shuil Royale, who won a similar event at Aintree last month.