Cheltenham Festival: Opening race delayed amid weather concerns

This afternoon's opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is set to go ahead

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The Independent Online

This afternoon's opening day of the Cheltenham Festival is set to go ahead as planned, although the start will be delayed by 35 minutes.

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse was forced to call a 10.30am inspection as parts of the course were frozen following a -12C wind chill overnight.

The track passed that inspection, although the first race has been put back from 1.30pm to 2.05pm.

The cross country course was due to be in action at 4pm but that race is now scheduled for 5.45pm.

However, if the Glenfarclas Handicap Chase is to go ahead, the banks course must pass a further inspection at 2.15pm.

Claisse said: "We're going ahead, but we're delaying the first race until 2.05pm.

"We're going to have a further inspection of the cross-country course at around 2.15pm, with a view to running the race at 5.45pm."

The William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle will still open the card at the revised time with the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy now going at 2.40.

The JLT Specialty Chase now starts at 3.20, while the feature Stan James Champion Hurdle now has a post time of 4pm.

Quevega will bid for a fifth successive victory in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle at 4.40, as originally planned, with the Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase due off at 5.15 as scheduled.

The cross country chase will then round off the card at 5.45pm, if the track is fit to race.