Cheltenham Festival: Soft expected to be in going description, says incoming Clerk of the Course | Racing News

Jon Pullin believes “a combination of soft or good to soft” ground would provide the perfect start to his first Festival meeting as Cheltenham’s clerk of the course.

Simon Claisse has clerked the last 20 Festivals but after announcing his intention to leave Cheltenham last year, he stepped down at the conclusion of the November meeting.

Pullin will now take charge of his first Festival and he is eager for the tapes to go up.

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Coach Gavin Cromwell is confident that defending Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter will handle the white-hot atmosphere of the Cheltenham Festival

He said: “Simon has done a fantastic job over a number of years but I’m enjoying the challenge and very much looking forward to a fortnight’s time.

“It would be soft, good to soft in places [at the moment]. We had eight millimeters overnight which was welcome and we could get another 5-6mm tonight and then we could get some more showers over the next day or two which should bring 1-2mm.

“After that, it’s due to be dry, certainly over the weekend and into the early part of next week. It could get a little bit colder as well, so we will keep an eye on the forecast and see where we go from here.

“Anything like a combination of soft or good to soft would be a great start. There’s nothing in the forecast that’s highlighting anything we should be too concerned about at this stage.”

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Coach Henry Daly says Hillcrest will go for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle over the Ballymore, if running at the Cheltenham Festival

Pullin is aware of the attention focused on the Festival and is relishing the challenge of producing a perfect racing surface.

He added: “The eyes of the racing industry and wider sport is very much on the Festival and every decision we’re making now and in the next few days in the build-up will have an impact on that, so it’s a challenge, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

“We had a very dry December and January but now we’ve had over two inches of rain in February which has made a huge difference.

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Nigel Twiston-Davies says Fantastikas could be well-handicapped if running in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival

“One thing I have learned about this track is how quickly it dries, but there is a bit of rain around for the next few days which will hopefully see us through to the end of the week.

“We will review where we are at that point, get some updated forecasts and if necessary we will water.”

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