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Festival organisers expect Cheltenham to go aheadPosted on Thursday 27th February 2020 @ 14.09

Cheltenham Festival organisers say they don't expect to cancel March's meeting despite the growing threat of the coronavirus.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus in the UK reached 15 on Thursday as numerous countries across the world continue to battle to contain the outbreak.

The presence of the coronavirus has started taking its toll on sporting events, with Italy calling off several Serie A football matches last weekend, while the Six Nations rugby game between Ireland and Italy on March 7 has been postponed.

With the Cheltenham Festival fast approaching - getting underway on March 10 - the viability of the Prestbury Park showpiece has been called into question, with bookmakers slashing the odds on the meeting being cancelled this week.

But Ian Renton, regional director at the racecourse, has moved to reassure those eagerly anticipating the Festival that they have no plans to call off the event at this time.

Renton told Sky Sports: "We are obviously in very close contact with the government, and the BHA and RCA are talking on a regular basis.

"There is no problem in this country at the moment and we really look forward to the Festival going ahead in a fortnight's time.

"At the moment, what we are seeing has been fantastic. The government have done a fantastic job, and that I'm sure I'll continue, and therefore there will be no threat to the Festival.

"We've had lots of things in the past. Last year we had equine flu and high winds as a risk. The previous year we had the 'beast from east'. We are normally sent to cope with most of these things leading up to the Festival.

"There is always going to be some risk. But at the moment we really look forward to a fantastic Festival in a fortnight's time."

Article Posted on Thursday 27th February 2020 @ 14.09

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