| 7.7°C Dublin

Festival track set to run soft

Cheltenham's clerk of the course Simon Claisse yesterday reported the ground to be on the soft side.

There are less than two weeks remaining before the start of the Festival and Claisse said: "The going is officially soft, good to soft in places and a bit quicker on the cross-country course.

"Over the next week or so, the forecast is pretty much the same as it is now -- frosts at night and relatively cold. The Festival ground has not been raced on since last spring and the position of the hurdles are the same as they were last year."

Any chance of the Festival being moved to include a Saturday will wait until the racecourse has completed a possible redevelopment.

Without revealing any figures, managing director Edward Gillespie hopes restructuring can happen at the course over the next couple of years, and said any building work will not affect the big meeting of the year from taking place at its usual home.

"We will have an approved design team working on what could be a future development here," said Gillespie. "I am as confident as I dare to be that there is a clear appreciation by Jockey Club Racecourses to get the infrastructure right before we rearrange the race meeting."



O'Neill won't Push defence

Don't Push It is likely to follow the same route as last year and have his final race ahead of the Grand National in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in two weeks.

Jonjo O'Neill's gelding was pulled up in that handicap hurdle last March but famously galloped to glory at Aintree soon after under Tony McCoy.

Connections are keen on that path again, although he does hold an entry in the Wiltshire County Show Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Newbury on Saturday.

"He's in on Saturday, but he'll more than likely wait for the Pertemps at Cheltenham," said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.



Tornado gears up for summer

Dancing Tornado is set for a summer campaign after being given a winter break following his run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup almost four months ago.

The 10-year-old is about to return to his training regime at trainer Michael Hourigan's base in Co Limerick and will get ready to earn his keep at the big meetings later in the year.