Calm before the storm: Horses test out Cheltenham turf on eve of the Festival as fans get ready to pour in
- Cheltenham Festival kicks off on Tuesday and is undergoing final preparations
- The runners and riders familiarised themselves with the course on Monday
- Champion Hurdle favourite Apple’s Jade was among the star names on the track
Cheltenham is undergoing its final preparations before the gates are thrown open and the Festival kicks off in earnest.
On Monday morning, the runners and riders familiarised themselves with the iconic racecourse in the chillingly cold Cotswold conditions.
But while the sun peered through the sky on Monday, the weather is set to take a turn for the first day on Tuesday.
The runners and riders were all out to test Cheltenham racecourse on Monday morning
A host of the big names racing over the coming days on the gallops at Prestbury Park
The weather was cold but sunny on Monday morning, different to what is expected on Tuesday
Among the star names out on the track on Monday was Apple’s Jade, who thousands of punters are expected to back for the the Champion Hurdle at 3.30pm on the opening day.
Jockey Keith Donoghue rode Apple’s Jade as he led the Gordon Elliott string during the preview day.
The feature race promises to be an intriguing contest, with Buveur D’Air bidding to become the sixth horse to win three Champion Hurdles, but he must give 7lbs to the extremely talented Apple’s Jade and Laurina.
Weather and conditions will also play their part at Prestbury Park. Rain and strong winds are expected to be prevalent on Tuesday, with highs of just 10 degrees,
Keith Donoghue riding Champion Hurdle favourite Apple’s Jade lead the Gordon Elliott string
Clerk of the course Simon Claisse and groundstaff walk the course on the eve of the Festival
A horse makes its way round the gallops during a preview day ahead of the 2019 Festival
Trainer Willie Mullins keeps an eye on his horses during the morning session at Cheltenham
The Met Office are also forecasting a 100 percent chance of rain – a stark contrast to the fresh conditions the jockeys experienced on Monday.
The going is currently described as good to soft, soft in places – but adverse weather could see that soften further.
Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Sunday: ‘The indications are still strong of up to 11 or 12 millimetres – half-an-inch – some time through the early hours of Tuesday, clearing by mid-day.
‘That would take us towards soft ground.’
The sun shines down on the stunning racecourse on the eve of the world-famous meet
The Henry de Bromhead string exercise at Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday morning