'Lovely jumping ground' expected at Cheltenham Festival

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Cheltenham avoided the snowfall which has beset parts of Britain over the last 48 hours and on Wednesday afternoon and Pullin provided an upbeat update ahead of the four-day meeting, which starts on Tuesday. "We avoided any snowfall overnight and we have had a combination of drizzle, light rain and sleet throughout the day today, but not amounting to anything of much volume," said Pullin. "There is still an unsettled forecast going forward. It is expected to be much the same, a combination of rain and sleet. "Thursday and Monday look as if they will be the wettest of the days from a volume point of view, with bits and pieces in between. "Form a cold point of view, we only dipped below zero briefly last night and it is expected to be a similar situation tonight. We might get below zero but nothing too significant. "Friday into Saturday might be a little bit colder, but daytime temperatures on Saturday get back up. We could be minus 3C or minus 4C but that looks the only cold night of concern and temperatures get back up after that. "It is as positive as you'll get a clerk to be. Certainly there is nothing from a cold point of view that's of concern and the bits and pieces of rain." He went on: "A couple of days could be more significant in volume, but we're OK. Both Thursday and Monday could be five millimetres to 10mm. "If we get anything between the mid-range, that would see lovely jumping ground to start the week with. "Next week looks like it will be warmer, with double-digit temperatures, just with a few showers." Catterick clerk of the course Fiona Needham was not so lucky, having to abandon Wednesday's meeting following a very cold night. The meetings at Fontwell, Lingfield and Kempton all went ahead following inspections. Prospects for racing at Carlisle on Thursday have improved markedly. An inspection was called for 3pm on Wednesday with the course frozen, however, despite another bitterly cold night, the course was found to be raceable. The fixture still needs to pass a 9am precautionary inspection on raceday though, due to the threat of frost. Southwell will inspect at 7.30am andunless the forecast is incorrect, no problems are anticipated.

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