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Cheltenham festival 2017

Weather prospects


13/03/2017

Weather a big player

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the first big outdoor events of the spring running from the 14th to 17th March 2017. Gold cup day is Friday 17th March. It takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

At this time of the year the weather can be very mixed, as the history of the festival shows. A few problems caused by the weather:

1) In 1978 the Gold Cup was abandoned due to snow and had to be run in April

2) 2008 saw the second day abandoned due to high winds

3) In 2012 a period of exceptionally dry weather meant the ground was unusually firm

Horse racing

By Paul Kehrer (Flickr: Win, Place, Show) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2017 weather outlook

Medium range computer models show the possibility of mixed weather during the Cheltenham Festival period, but it is still too early to be confident about the details. However, a transition towards unsettled conditions is expected to develop and after a very mild start it probably turns cooler on Friday. In summary the latest data suggests:

Wednesday: Mostly dry and mild
Thursday: A risk of thicker cloud bringing some patchy rain
Friday: A dry morning but an increasing risk of wet weather during the second half of the day

The GEFS06z postage stamp below shows forecast rainfall for the afternoon of Friday 18th March. Each stamp represents the forecast from one individual GEFS computer model run. The plot highlight uncertainty about how quickly rain will spread southwards and whether it will reach Cheltenham in time for the the Gold Cup. 

GEFS06 precipitation postage stamp forecast chart

Latest weather forecasts

The forecasts are updated every 6 hours. Until about 5 days before the start of the event the ensemble (probability) forecast will provide a more consistent guide than the deterministic one which is likely to change frequently.

16 day Cheltenham racecourse weather

Most horse racing fans will be familiar with playing the odds so using the ensemble (or probability as they're called on TWO) forecasts shouldn't be too difficult. 

The link below takes you to the Birmingham ensemble forecast which is close enough to Cheltenham. Good luck!

16 day Birmingham probability

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