Fear of high winds at Cheltenham drives Irish trainers Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins to Aintree
- Elliott and Mullins want to ensure travel plans are not disrupted by bad weather
- Winds of up to 40mph are forecast and up to 12mm of rain is predicted to fall
- Extra stables required because Cheltenham can only accommodate 299 horses
Horses from the Irish stables of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins running at the Festival later this week are being stabled at Aintree racecourse.
The move is to ensure their normal plans to travel by ferry are not disrupted by the high winds which are forecast to hit the country on Tuesday.
The overflow facility is necessary because Cheltenham has capacity to stable only 299 horses. Winds of up to 40mph are forecast on Tuesday, while up to 12mm of rain is predicted to fall on the track overnight, turning the ground soft for opening races.
High winds are forecast and up to 12mm of rain is predicted to fall on the track before first race
The Wednesday of the Festival had to be cancelled in 2008 when 50mph gusts hit the track and made temporary structures unsafe.
But Cheltenham officials are confident that the more substantial nature of the buildings in the Festival’s hospitality village will be able to cope.
A course spokesperson said: ‘The forecast suggests strong winds on Wednesday. Our operations and racing teams are working across the site on measures to minimise any issues. Investments in our facilities over the last decade mean they are able to withstand tougher conditions than previously.’
The overflow facility is necessary because Cheltenham has capacity to stable only 299 horses
After seven horses died either at the Festival last year or as a result of injuries sustained there, all runners at this week’s meeting will be subject to strenuous pre-race veterinary checks.
David Sykes, the BHA’s director of equine health and welfare, said: ‘We are hopeful that no horses have to be withdrawn.
However, we will not allow a horse to run if it is exhibiting signs that it is not fully fit. We cannot guarantee risk-free racing but we are doing all we can to prevent injuries that might have been avoidable.’
Champion jockey Richard Johnson is expected to ride this afternoon despite a heavy fall at Taunton on Monday.