RACING

Cheltenham Festival: Beast from the East threatens races

You would have been forgiven for thinking that winter is only beginning following the recent drop in temperature around the country, but you may need to hold onto your coats and scarves for just a little while longer as temperatures are again set to fall.

With the so called “Beast from the East” approaching, we are expected to see -9C in some parts of the country, leaving many Cheltenham Racing fans waiting to see if the weather will affect the festival.

Eight inches of snow are expected to fall before the end of the week. If this is the case then the potential delays and cancellations of public transport in and around Cheltenham would definitely be of great inconvenience.

One Cheltenham resident said: “I hope it doesn’t ruin the racing. It is a highlight of the year for Cheltenham and you can always tell around this time of year that everyone is looking forward to it. The bookmakers start promoting it and there is just at atmosphere about the place so we all look forward to it.

“It would be a shame for the weather to be as bad as it has been recently. It’s certainly not what we are used to for this time of year and it has a habit of staying around for while when it does eventually come down here so hopefully they can clear it up for the horses.”

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With the current weather conditions only forecast to get worse, the worries and concerns for all race go-ers have been going to the horses and jockeys themselves. In recent years there has been ample attendance and voice produced by protestors to horse racing and the treatment of horses once injured. Park Life horse racing correspondent George Berry added: “The snow will act in much the same way as the rain. It will make the ground heavy and incredibly challenging for horses to run through. Their is very little chance that the racing will be off due to the ground being frozen, however.

“It is more likely to be affected by severe waterlogging from the snow melting.  Assuming racing goes ahead, once the snow does melt, it will be very gruelling racing conditions. Horses from Ireland will likely handle it better than English trained horses as they are more accustomed to bottomless ground – many of them are trained on swampland so are used to it being very taxing.

“One English horse who would flourish if the ground came up soft is Native River in the Gold Cup. He won the Welsh Grand National on heavy ground at Chepstow last year so he has proven he has bags of stamina and has no issues with heavy ground. If it does come up any worse than good to soft I would be very tempted to go against massive ante-post favourite Mite Bite in the Gold Cup and side with Native River. There is no doubting the ability of Mite Bite but he is unlikely to be suited by having too much cut in the ground and will likely find it hard to stay the full distance if it is particularly soft.”

The festival is expected to attract around 250,000 people to Cheltenham, and they will be hoping the weather clears up and shines on them along with the betting gods at the racecourse.

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