Cheltenham improving but false ground a concern ahead of crunch inspection

Cheltenham: expecting a predominantly dry week
Cheltenham: was forced to call off Friday's cardCredit: Edward Whitaker

Cheltenham is slowly recovering from the deluge of rain that forced the cancellation of Friday’s fixture with one spot pinpointed as the main area of concern ahead of a crucial 3pm inspection for the weekend’s racing.

A total of 40mm fell on the course on Wednesday and Thursday, leaving some parts of the track under as much as three feet of water and forcing clerk of the course Simon Claisse to call off Friday’s meeting at lunchtime on Thursday.

Claisse revealed much of the water had drained away by Friday morning, but wanted to see improvement in one area where some false ground had emerged.

He said: "The flooding has receded, although we still have some surface water on some parts of the course. The course is very saturated and there is some false ground coming down the old hill, which stretches across the chase and hurdles course about a third of the way down and at the bottom.

"We expect that to improve through the day but that would be our main area of concern at this point. There are other areas which we would be able to get around without a problem."

Claisse was optimistic racing would go ahead when speaking on Thursday, and took confidence in his forecasts lining up with those of the Met Office and elsewhere.

He said: "The forecasts are mostly aligned for tonight, which gives you confidence, and we should be able to cope with what’s forecast, which is around 5-8mm, overnight if the course is where we think it should be this afternoon."

The going was described as soft, heavy in places on Friday morning.

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Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor