14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Cheltenham plan further checkHeadlines
Cheltenham is still under covers

Cheltenham passed an initial 8am inspection on Friday morning but a further precautionary check at 7am on Saturday has been called.

Staff at the track have been battling the elements all week as they try to get the important Trials Day meeting to go ahead.

The track has been protected from frost for well over a week by covers, but snow that fell on top of the covers was causing some concern. That has now been cleared and clerk of the course Simon Claisse reports the track fit for racing, but will check again on raceday morning.

The track tweeted: "Passed the inspection and confident of racing. Precautionary inspection at 7am Sat just in case local weather forecast is incorrect. Some snow forecast for late afternoon followed by rain. Frost covers coming off this afternoon."

Cheltenham communications manager Andy Clifton said: "The course is fit to race and we will be taking the covers off this afternoon, but we have called a precautionary check for 7am. The situation is that we are forecast a little bit of snow around teatime today which is then due to be followed by a band of rain.

"Given the more severe weather which is forecast across the country later today, we felt it prudent to call a precautionary inspection just in case our local forecasts are wrong.

"If the forecast is right, which they have largely been this week, I think we might be able to give the meeting the go-ahead before 7am tomorrow. If the forecast is right, we would be extremely confident of racing tomorrow."

Should Cheltenham suffer any unexpected weather problems, the track also has the option of delaying the meeting until Sunday. Trainers will be required to declare their horses for Saturday and then declare them again for Sunday as prize money levels would be reduced that day.

Clifton added: "The whole point of us having that ghost card, even though we are confident of racing, was to give us the option of Sunday. If there is some unexpected problem overnight, we have the option to wait until Sunday."

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