It’s that time of year again when the scheduled race meetings hang on by a thread. With terrible weather hitting various parts of the country, course inspections are being required as those in charge wait for the thumbs up or the thumbs down.

Unfortunately for the folks at Cheltenham, it is a very definitive NO to the New Years Day meeting. Following the inspection which took place this morning, clerk of the course Simon Claisse was able to confirm the course was unraceable in parts.

Similar to Chepstow where a deluge of rain prevented the 2020 Welsh Grand National from taking place, a staggering 145mm of rain has fallen at the track in the last month, with 85mm falling in the last week. So with no other choice, the race day has been abandoned.

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Of course it’s disappointing for all involved to have to cancel the meeting, especially given the year we’ve had with many of us having to find other ways to occupy our time.

For those who have spent a lot of time indoors, working from home, scratching our heads over homeschooling or even playing blackjack online, just when it looked like racing was getting back fully, albeit behind closed doors, the weather scuppered everybody’s plans.

Speaking to the Racing Post, Simon Claisse said: “It’s disappointing but we weren’t seeing any improvement after the volume of rain we’ve received.

“There are two parts of the course – coming down the hill and at the second-last fence – where there’s no way round [the waterlogged areas].”

That has a knock-on effect for TV scheduling. ITV Racing’s programming on Friday has had to rescramble the show, with the channel now taking in action from three meetings.

They are Musselburgh, Exeter, and Tramore and while this may not appear to be the most exciting line-up, we will get to see the double Gold Cup winner, Al Boum Photo back in action at Tramore.

This is a pivotal part of Al Boum Photo’s prep season and it’s where he raced, and won, prior to both of his Gold Cup wins. So if he can go out and put in another solid round of jumping, it will boost his claims for the third Gold Cup in March.

Al Boum Photo

So what are Al Boum Photo’s chances when he races on Friday? He runs in the Savills Chase New Years Day Chase which is a Grade 3 race. Currently, there are five runners in total, one of which is Acapella Bourgois who was beaten in the same race last season.

The going looks like it will be soft again which shouldn’t pose too much of an issue as trainer Willie Mullins has sent him out on that type of ground before and all going well, it looks like it will be an easy win for the 8-year-old. Helped of course by the fact that Monalee was not declared today.

That’s also why the odds are so low. Last year he went off as the 4/7F and this year will not be any different.

As for the future Cheltenham meetings, the next on the schedule is the Festival Trials day card on January 30th. So with a few weeks and hopefully some better weather, we are optimistic that it will go ahead which will be a welcome relief for all involved.