Cheltenham’s National Hunt Festival, due to start in a fortnight, could be postponed because of the foot and mouth crisis.

“There is a possibility that the Festival may not go ahead, although we have to keep our hopes up,” said Cheltenham’sclerk of the course Simon Claisse on Monday.

“From a racing point of view it would be abitter blow if the disease continues to spread and we had to start calling off race meetings,” he added. “Unfortunately there is nothing much that we can do.”