Full statement by Simon Claisse, clerk at Cheltenham festival



After a wind chill of minus12C overnight, a few parts of the Cheltenham track are frozen. There will be an inspection at 10.30am.

The going is soft (Chase & Hurdle courses), frozen in a few places under the covers, and also soft on the Cross Country course, which is frozen in a few places too.

Simon Claisse, Head of Racing, South West Region & Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course, told Channel 4 Morning Line: “It was minus12C in the wind chill just before midnight according to our weather station and it was still minus9C at 5am.

“That enabled the frost to get under the covers a bit. 90 per cent of the course is fine but obviously we cannot clear the course as fit to race until everything is 100 per cent OK.

“The problem areas tend to be on some of the take-offs and landings, on the slightly wider ground. We have fresh ground – seven to eight yards on the inside.

“We just have to be a bit careful of a horse going a little bit wide – it is on those areas that were worn a little bit in October, November, December which are frozen”

He was asked whether problem areas like that can be by-passed if necessary.

Claisse replied: “We will look at everything that we could possibly do to ensure that the meeting goes ahead today.

“Previously, we have forked crusty areas and, if we had to, we would go around any hurdles and fences but it is not easy to make a full assessment while the (frost) covers are still on.

“We will begin to strip them at 10am. The good news is that the temperature has risen a degree or so in the air – though it might not feel it in the wind.

“The forecast is for plus one1C by 10am and plus3C by noon if the sun comes out. If that happens, we should be OK.

“We are not running on the Cross Country Course until 4pm and again the afternoon temperatures are meant to reach plus4C or plus5C. That course may take a bit longer to get fit when the sun comes out but it should be all right by 4pm.

“I remain optimistic about racing going ahead but you never quite know what is happening with this weather.

“Our experiences last night were beyond anything we had ever seen before.”

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