By Simon Jackson.
The going for the first day of the Cheltenham Festival has been changed to good to soft, soft in places as the ground at the Gloucester racecourse continues to dry.
The news was revealed on the eve of the first day of the Festival which commences with a seven-race card on Tuesday that features the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
The four-day jump racing extravaganza, which runs from March 15 to March 18, has been enhanced by a £45million redevelopment of the racecourse facilities that was completed in November.
“I have changed the going description to good to soft, soft in places as the ground continues to dry,” Simon Claisse, the clerk of the course at Cheltenham and director of racing at Jockey Club Racecourses south west, said on Monday as the good weather at Cheltenham continued.
“The soft places are in the chute which concerns races over two and a half miles and four miles tomorrow.
“I anticipate there may be good in the going description at some point tomorrow if this weather continues. The forecast predicts more dry weather.
“I am very pleased with the condition of all three courses – the Old (used for the first two days), the New Course (last two days) and the Cross Country (used on Wednesday).”
Ian Renton, Jockey Club Racecourses’ regional director for Cheltenham and the south west, added: “Cheltenham is looking absolutely fantastic.
“It is lovely to have the redevelopment completed. Racegoers who haven’t visited Cheltenham since last year’s Festival, when the redevelopment was still underway, will notice The Princess Royal Stand and the main concourse area in particular.
“And if they go down to the Tented Village, all the temporary facilities there have had a significant facelift and racegoers will notice a real change,” said Renton.
“I am looking forward to four days of nice weather and four days of fantastic racing. We have now put virtually everything into place in terms of facilities to ensure the customer experience is the best we can possibly make it – now it is all about the action on the racecourse.”
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