Claisse refuses to panic over reports coming in of prolonged cold snap
A prolonged Siberian cold snap, with overnight temperatures plunging to as low as -10C in some parts of Britain, could have an impact on next month's Cheltenham Festival – if various weather forecasts are to be believed.
The consensus is that freezing winds and sub-zero temperatures are likely to hit Britain next week as a result of a polar vortex in the Arctic.
Some reports suggest such conditions might last for a month which, if accurate, could potentially play havoc with jump racing's biggest four days of the year between March 13-16.
Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse is aware of these reports, but won't be pressing the panic button just yet.
"It is predicted to get very cold next week," Claisse said. "However, the extent of the cold snap is dependent on which model you look at.
"There are a mixture of messages coming at the moment, but we're dealing with long-range forecasting here.
"We were predicted a very cold spell earlier in the year and that failed to materialise so we’ll just have to see."
He added: "In terms of speculation on forecasts that go beyond three or four days I've historically found that's a pretty pointless exercise.
"We had a splash of rain on Tuesday night and the tracks are all soft at the moment. I consider us to be in very good shape given the winter we've had."
Owing to a very wet winter many of Cheltenham's meetings so far this season have taken place on testing ground, but the track's policy is always to preserve plenty of fresh ground for the festival.
It has been rare in recent years for underfoot conditions to get very soft at the Cheltenham Festival.
Mike Waring, the BHA's senior race planning executive, said: “We keep a close eye on both short and long range weather forecasts, and have a number of options to stage additional fixtures if required.
"These include jumpers bumpers, although in most circumstances these are only programmed where prolonged bouts of extreme weather have led to multiple abandonments.”
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