The clerk of the course at Cheltenham is becoming increasingly concerned with the condition of the track ahead of the four-day festival which is less than two weeks away.

Grass growth at Cheltenham has been affected by two two-week stints of frozen ground in December and January which followed a dry summer and autumn.

With no significant rain forecast between now and the festival, Cheltenham have begun a watering programme.

Speaking to The Irish Field last week, clerk Jon Pullin said: “We would be good ground at the moment across all three tracks.

“We started watering last week and by today we will have applied 30ml to all courses.

“The long range forecast is predominantly dry. We will get a little bit colder next week for two to three nights and there might be the odd shower, but no significant rain is forecast.”

Trainers won’t be pleased about the prospect of racing on good ground – which could easily transpire despite Cheltenham’s watering efforts, depending on weather patterns on the day of racing.

At a recent media event, Willie Mullins said: “There has to be a big concern about the ground at Cheltenham. Hopefully the weather will break and it will make it safe, but it’s something we’d be worrying about.

“I think for jump racing you want a good dig in the ground. Once racing starts then it’s very hard to water.”


Irish horses look set to dominate the Grand National field this year after the weights were published for the famous race last week.

Of the top 60 in the weights, 41 are Irish-trained, which includes all but one of the top 10.

The race provides a good illustration of the power switch in National Hunt racing and it’s long odds on that Ireland will have another National winner.

It could be Noble Yeats, who broke significant trends to win as a seven-year-old last season and has been made the 10/1 favourite for a title defence.

He will have to shoulder a weight of 11st 11lbs this time around, but the Emmet Mullins-trained gelding elevated his form since, so much so he is one of the main contenders for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.