Racing: Festival going will stay on the soft side, insists Arkwright

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CHELTENHAM'S clerk of the course has countered suggestions that the going will dry out this week. Philip Arkwright said yesterday afternoon: "The going is good to soft, soft in a few places on both courses.

"Since 27 February we have had 28 millimetres of rain but nothing for the last two days. I don't anticipate the ground drying up much because the moisture has got right into the ground this year - we are not just talking about the top few inches.''

Arkwright added: "I anticipate going into the meeting with this sort of ground. I've seen Nicky Henderson, who was enthusiastic about the condition of the course. There are people saying it will dry up by Wednesday but I don't expect it to.

"There is a front coming down from the north-west tomorrow but it is weakening all the time. By the time it gets down to us, they reckon it'll probably have run out of steam, but there is a danger of a little light drizzle Monday afternoon and evening. After that, it is a high pressure dominating the scene, with mild temperatures."

l Belmont King is still on course for the Grand National despite a poor display at Chepstow on Saturday, trainer Paul Nicholls said yesterday. He needed the race, Nicholls said.