Clerk of the course satisfied with Cheltenham ground

Cheltenham’s clerk of the course Simon Claisse says the Cotswold track has enough water in its reservoir to survive the dry spell on the run-up to next month’s Festival.

Claisse generally aims for good to soft ground at the biggest jumping meeting of the year, but a serious lack of rain has led to him to call for back-up resources.

“It has been pretty dry,” he said.

“We have had an eighth of the rain we would normally expect in February but the reservoir is pretty well full.

“As the forecast was dry, we applied a second bit of irrigation and by this afternoon it will be good all round on the chase and hurdle courses. It is good to firm, firm in places on the cross country course and we will look to water that course in some places.

“There is some light rain forecast Friday to Monday and we will take a decision as to further watering on the chase and hurdle courses come Monday or Tuesday.

“It is not looking as if there will be a deluge but the course is in fantastic order and it has not been raced on since April last year.

“We have used 1.2million gallons of our water so far, and there’s another six to use.”

On a preview day at Cheltenham when the handicap weights were announced, senior British Horseracing handicapper Phil Smith appealed to British trainers to run horses in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Handicap Chase, a race won every year by the Irish since its inception in 2005.

“You’re not taking it seriously enough. It’s a potential target for really good prize money,” he said.

Henrietta Knight retorted: “I’m not surprised if they are running it on good to firm ground.”

Cheltenham managing director Edward Gillespie has announced that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, would be attending the Festival on Wednesday and would present prizes for both the Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase and the Queen Mother Champion Chase.