Cheltenham covered up for festival

All frost covers were in place at Cheltenham by 2pm yesterday ahead of the four-day Festival.

The operation on the old course where racing takes place for the first two days of the meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday was completed on Saturday afternoon along with vulnerable areas on the cross country course, used on Tuesday only.

The new course, used for racing on Thursday and Friday, was covered on Sunday.

In total, the area protected by the covers is 65 acres or the equivalent of 45 football pitches and has involved 630 individual covers.

“All the frost covers are now down,” said clerk of the course Simon Claisse.

“The forecast remains for some wintry showers over the next couple of days — tonight, tomorrow and maybe a bit on Tuesday morning. There has been no rain since early Saturday morning.

“The ground, though, is unlikely to dry out much under the covers. It is soft everywhere.

“We are experiencing a wind chill of -3C at the moment, with the temperature being +2C.

“This cold spell is forecast to last through to Thursday.”

The old course will be uncovered on Tuesday morning. It will involve up to 60 people and take around two and a half hours to complete.

The frost covers on the new course will remain in place until Thursday morning.

On Sunday afternoon the going was described as soft on all courses.

Dynaste meanwhile will run in the Jewson Novices’ Chase rather the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival because of the prospect of testing ground.

Connections of the David Pipe-trained grey feel the shorter distance of the Jewson is the better option due to the change in the conditions.

“Touch wood he’s the best horse in either race. We thought that on the ground the RSA could be a real slog, so we’ve leant towards the Jewson,” said Pipe.

Dynaste has won all his three races over fences between two and a half and three miles and has been ante-post favourite for both races.


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