By Simon Jackson
The ground conditions continue to quicken at Cheltenham on the eve of the 2014 Festival where the going is currently good to soft on all courses and expected to dry out more.
Cheltenham is set to race on the Old Course for the first two days of the meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, where the feature races are the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase. On Thursday racing transfers to the New Course for the last two days that include the World Hurdle and Gold Cup as Cheltenham clerk of the course, Simon Claisse, anticipates further improvement.
“Both hurdle tracks and both chase tracks are good to soft,” Claisse said on Sunday.
“I took the soft in places out of the going description yesterday. I will look again at the ground later this afternoon but I am not anticipating changing the going description then.
“Tomorrow, however, I expect to have good somewhere in the going description.
“The forecast is for dry and warm weather to continue, though it will not be as warm today on Monday and Tuesday. Today’s high was due to be 16C, while it is forecast to be 11C on Monday and 13C on Tuesday.
“The condition of the New Course, used on Thursday and Friday, will be monitored throughout the week as it is anticipated to continue to dry out.”
Meanwhile nine runners have been declared for the Champion Hurdle at 3.20 tomorrow where Hurricane Fly and The New One head the betting at 11-4 with sponsors Stan James.
The 2014 Stan James Champion Hurdle
Class 1, Grade 1, £418,000 Total Prize Fund).
Captain Cee Bee (IRE) Edward Harty IRE 11st 10lb Mark Walsh
Grumeti Alan King 11st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson
Hurricane Fly (IRE) Willie Mullins IRE 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh
Jezki (IRE) (Hood) Jessica Harrington IRE 11st 10lb Barry Geraghty
Melodic Rendezvous Jeremy Scott 11st 10lb Nick Scholfield
My Tent Or Yours (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb A P McCoy
Our Conor (IRE) Dessie Hughes IRE 11st 10lb Danny Mullins
Ptit Zig (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob
The New One (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies
Betting (Stan James): 11/4 The New One, Hurricane Fly, 4/1 Our Conor, 9/2 My Tent Or Yours, 9/1 Jezki, 20/1 Melodic Rendezvous, 50/1 Ptit Zig, 100/1 Grumeti, 200/1 Captain Cee Bee
Read Horse Talk with Simon Jackson each day at London24 for the latest horse racing news.