The Beast from the East is baring its claws, but Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse has eased fears the Festival will fall victim to the biting cold.

A prolonged spell of snow and sub-zero temperatures is set to grip Ireland and England this week, a fortnight out from the opening day at Prestbury Park.

However Claisse aired his confidence that it will not adversely affect the showpiece meeting, and actually predicted the weather will be pleasant come the first race of the week.

"It's looking as if the weather will get very cold through this week, with temperatures down to minus seven or eight.. with the chance of some snow on Thursday and Friday," he told RTÉ Sport.

"But beyond that it's looking as if temperatures warm up again and we're into a less cold and wet spell next week.

"We don't really have any concerns because we've got a whole week next week. If there's any snow lying around I'm pretty confident that'll go quite quickly. The indications are we could be looking at a significantly mild Festival week.

"If I was giving a ground description now it would be good to soft all round."