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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 12:22 GMT
Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham, 11-14 March, 2008



Damage at Cheltenham racecourse on Monday morning
Cheltenham had also suffered storm damage on Sunday night
The second day of the Cheltenham Festival has been cancelled because of the stormy weather at the racecourse.

Strong winds had made the marquees in the tented hospitality area unsafe and organisers were forced to call off the day's racing on safety grounds.

About 55,000 people had been due to attend the prestigious meeting at Prestbury Park on Wednesday.

Cheltenham management say that Wednesday's card will now be run across Thursday and Friday's meeting.

There will be 10 races on Thursday, and nine on Friday, with racing starting at 1230 GMT each day.

Wednesday's feature race was due to be the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which will now be run on Thursday along with the World Hurdle.

The weather forecast is improved for the final two days of the meeting, with much lighter winds expected.

We have had one structure blow over, while at the moment the tented village is not a safe site

Edward Gillespie
Managing director

Ticket holders for Wednesday will receive a 100% refund, but those tickets will not be valid on Thursday or Friday.

Managing director Edward Gillespie explained: "On Tuesday night we had a forecast indicating wind speeds with gusts of over 50mph up to and including Wednesday afternoon.

"That means that many of the temporary facilities might not be safe. It's a west wind, which would take any debris onto the racecourse.

"We have had one structure blow over this morning at 0700 while at the moment the tented village is not a safe site.

"However, the good news is we can race all the races over the next two days. It's very sad. It's the last thing we expected in the build-up to this meeting."

606: DEBATE
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The Gold Cup showdown between Kauto Star and Denman will still take place on Friday as part of a nine-race card.

Trainer Willie Mullins said he was relieved that all of the races would be run over the remaining two days of the Festival but it creates problems for trainers.

"We have got to get Tuesday's runners out of the stables at the track and although provisions have been made to put them up at Warwick racecourse, we want to try to look for somewhere nearby so it will make it easier for our staff to look after them," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We were trying to get them on the ferries back to Ireland but they are cancelled because of the weather and in addition, horses don't travel well if it's windy and they can end up quite ill.

"I imagine there may be one or two people and horses who are yet to arrive at the course and they might not get here if the weather is like this but I think most people would have arrived by Tuesday night."

Jockey Robert Thornton, who rode two winners on Tuesday's opening day, including the Champion Hurdle victor Katchit, agreed with the postponement.

"It's really disappointing as the decision was not from a riding point of view, but at the end of it, safety reasons are paramount," he said.

"I'm planning to go to the meeting at Huntingdon to keep my eye in for the seven or eight rides I will have each day on Thursday and Friday."



SEE ALSO
Cheltenham Festival 2008 schedule
12 Mar 08 |  Horse Racing


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