Festival opener hinges on inspection
Cheltenham will have to pass a 10.30am inspection if the opening day of the Festival meeting is to go ahead.
Although the covers were put down at the track over the weekend, officials report the track to be frozen in a few places this morning after a wind chill of -12C overnight.
Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: "We are frozen in places but it seems to be small areas. We can't really tell the extent of the frozen areas until we start to take the covers up. If the weather does what we expect it to and the temperature gets up to 3C by 12 noon, we should be kicking off as planned at 1.30pm."
He added: "The wind chill dropped to -12C overnight and it was still -9C at 5am today. The is sun is out now and if we get an hour or two of sunshine on it, it should start to move. If we get some cloud cover, the rate at which that will happen will obviously slow."
Claisse says he remains "optimistic" about the meeting going ahead as planned, and told Channel 4's The Morning Line: "90% of the course is fine but obviously we can't clear it as fit to race until it's 100% OK.
"(The problem areas) tend to be on some of the take-offs and landings and some of the wider ground. We have got fresh ground seven or eight yards on the inside, but you just have to be a bit careful of a horse that's going wide.
"It's on those areas that were worn a little bit in October, November and December, that's where the frost has got in under the covers. We will look at everything we can possibly do to ensure the meeting goes ahead. If we have to, we will go round any fences or hurdles.
"We are not running on the cross country course until 4pm and the afternoon temperature is 4C or 5C, so it may take a little bit longer to get fit when the sun comes out, but should be OK by 4.
"I remain optimistic but you just never quite know what is happening with this weather. Our experiences last night were beyond anything we've seen before."