Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events in the British sporting calendar, with huge crowds expected this year come rain or shine.
The 2018 Festival saw especially bad weather. There was so much mud that seven miles of trackway had to be brought in to help vehicles get to and from Prestbury Park. But that didn’t seem to put horse racing fans off. Last year’s event set a new record attendance of 262,637 over the four days.
However, the weather can have a major impact on the racing itself. Rainfall softens the ground, which suits some horses. But others prefer the going when it’s dry and hard.
How’s the forecast looking for this year’s Cheltenham Festival?
Cheltenham racecourse weather
There’s always a chance of rain in March and this year looks set to be no different. Showers are expected on two of the four Festival days.
Winds are forecasted to reach speeds of up to 19mph too, but the organisers have coped with much worse.
The build-up to the 2008 Festival was disrupted by a storm and winds of 50mph. That damaged some of the facilities on site, including a hospitality tent, the starter’s rostrum and fencing. Staff had to work around the clock to get things sorted in time for the start of Champion Day. They also took down the roof of the Guinness stand until the wind died down to prevent further damage.
Tuesday 12th March weather
We’ll hear the famous Cheltenham roar for the first time this year on Champion Day, with the Champion Hurdle, the Arkle and the National Hunt Chase among the seven races on show.
You’ll want to bring an umbrella if you’re planning to watch the races in person. There’s a 40% chance of showers throughout the day. Hold on to your brolly tight, as winds could hit speeds of 19mph.
You might need to wrap up warm if you’re outdoors too. The forecast predicts a high temperature of 8°C, though it could drop as low as 3°C. Brrrrrrrrr.
If it does rain, it could help Champion Hurdle favourite Buveur D’Air. Nicky Henderson’s star is searching for a third-straight win in the opening day showpiece. And he’s won his last 11 races when the going is good to soft or heavier.
Wednesday 13th March weather
Here’s the bad news: you’ll have to bear the cold if you’re planning to show off your best outfit for Ladies Day. The temperature is expected to peak at 8°C again on Wednesday.
But the good news is that it doesn’t look like raining. It’ll be a partly cloudy day, with only a 20% chance of rainfall.
The ground should start to firm up for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Novices’ Steeple Chase, Coral Cup and the rest of the day’s action if there isn’t any rain. That means we could see quicker races, with less moisture in the ground.
Thursday 14th March weather
You should be able to leave the umbrella at home on St Patrick’s Thursday. And if this is a second successive day with no rain, we could see the hardest going over the Festival’s four days.
Temperatures are set to rise slightly, with the mercury potentially climbing to 10°C. The wind should calm down too, with a top speed of 13mph expected.
Paisley Park leads the Stayers’ Hurdle betting. He comes into the race on the back of four straight wins over the winter. But the going hasn’t seemed to affect the seven-year-old lately. He’s won on good, soft and good to soft ground.
Friday 15th March weather
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival comes to a close with Gold Cup Day, as is tradition. The temperature should continue to rise, with highs of 12°C on the cards.
But you’ll want to grab that brolly again. It looks likely to rain on Friday, with showers forecast throughout the day. There’s a 50% chance that the skies open up.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight of Friday’s racing, with Presenting Percy out in front of the betting. Patrick Kelly’s seven-year-old won’t mind a bit of rain. He’s won four of his last five races on soft or heavier ground, and came second in the other.