CHELTENHAM is braced for washout first day as the Met Office has issued “danger to life” warnings for Storm Gareth.
Met Office forecasters have issued warnings for winds and rain ahead of the start of the four days of racing at Cheltenham.
Weather has previously impacted the festival, with gusts leading to the cancellation of races in 2008.
It is not expected to be as bad as that – but winds and rain are forecast for Cheltenham amid the arrival of Storm Gareth late on Tuesday.
Punters better pack their brollies and prepare for their glad rags to get muddy.
And a severe weather warning linked to Storm Gareth is hanging over the course in Gloucestershire for Wednesday.
Horses are expected run on soft ground – with a 90% chance of a downfall before the first race.
Winds are forecast to reach a peak of 40mph on Wednesday – the same day which caused cancellations 11 years ago.
Rain is expected to clear by 3pm tomorrow, but further downpours are also forecast for Friday at the racecourse, according to the Met Office.
Storm Gareth is the third named weather system of the year, and the deep low pressure system will bring gusts of up to 80mph.
It is expected to smash into Northern Ireland and have impacts across Britain late on Wednesday.
Yellow weather warnings are in place for the entirety of Northern Ireland and Wales, most of England, and eastern parts of Scotland.
Weather warnings are in place from just after midnight – and last until 10am on Friday.
Danger to life warnings are in place for parts of the storm – but they do no extend as far south as Cheltenham.
Destructive flooding is also predicted with up to 60mm rainfall expected in parts of the UK.
Punters will be braced for a mix of sun and showers throughout the second half of the week.
Jockeys always hope to race on clear skies with dry ground.
Wet courses can make it harder for the horses to get any grip when the first to too soft.
The first race this year will be the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which will start at 1.30pm, with six other races taking place on Tuesday.
Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “The strong north-westerly winds will also affect southwest Scotland late on Tuesday, spreading across much of England and Wales through Wednesday.
“Gusts of 50-55 mph are likely inland and up to 65 mph along western coasts. Winds will gradually ease during the afternoon.”
Forecasts predict the winds will “ease and the rest of the week will remain unsettled with showers or spells of rain, and some brief drier interludes”.
Temperatures are expected to be “near average for the time of year it will often feel colder due to the strong winds”.