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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019
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Good weather encourages Cheltenham officials to break out the hoses

Officials have started to water the course for fear that the ground had become too fast.

Image: Barry Cronin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

WE MAY BE experiencing some unseasonably dry weather at the moment, but it seems that not everybody is overjoyed by the absence of spring showers.

As preparations continue ahead of next week’s Cheltenham Festival, course officials have taken the decision to start watering the course in order to prevent the ground from becoming too fast.

The four-day weather forecast has indicated that any rainfall over the next few days will be minimal at best, meaning that the tracks at Prestbury Park would otherwise have been excessively hard when the four-day event kicks off on Tuesday.

Although the decision has been taken with the welfare of the horses in mind, it is bound to be welcomed by punters and form-watchers as well. The majority of this season’s races have taken place in considerably heavier conditions, rendering a lot of the early-season form slightly less informative.

The watering of the course is a delicate process as officials will not want to unfairly disadvantage those horses who favour good ground. As a result, course clerk Simon Claisse decided to apply just four millimetres of water yesterday, with the same amount to be applied again today.

The forecast is for it to stay dry until the weekend when there may be a little light rain and then predominately dry at the start of the week at least.

To keep the ground where it is now on the Old we need about 8mm or 9mm or irrigation or rainfall up to next Tuesday/Wednesday. We have not had any significant rain since 10 days ago.

This year’s festival kicks off on Tuesday afternoon with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 13:30.

Read more at AtTheRaces.com >

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Niall Kelly

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