Champion Hurdle: Ground good with watering unlikely after forecast of rain.
THE Cheltenham Festival was set to open with the ground officially good and officials holding fire on whether it will be necessary to water while there remains the prospect of rain in the area.
The meeting starts with two days of action on the Old course, with the New course used on Thursday and Friday. Unless weatherman John Kettley's predictions prove wide of the mark, watering appears unlikely. Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said yesterday: ``Our forecast has not changed. We are good on both hurdles and chase courses and good to soft, soft in places on the cross-country. We are expecting a couple of millimetres of rain between now and racing tomorrow. The forecast for Wednesday is for five or six millimetres of rainfall during the day, in which case we won't be watering.''
The Met Office forecast is for a largely dry but cloudy week, with Friday set to be sunny.
Claisse added: ``Temperatures are also due to rise - 13 degrees tomorrow and going up to 18 or 19 by Friday so, should the rain not materialise, there must be a strong possibility that we would have to water on Wednesday evening.
``The trainers to have walked the course have been complimentary and reckon it is lovely ground, and the fact that we have six yards of fresh turf on the inside to save for Friday is a bonus.''