Getting Ready For Cheltenham – Five Things To Watch At The Festival!
It’s the greatest show on turf – and the runners and riders are almost under starter’s orders! That’s right, the Cheltenham Festival is about to roar into action, and we can’t wait for horse racing’s most wonderful week to get underway. Virgin Media One (Virgin TV 103) will be the place to catch a week of cracking contests – and before they set off, we’ve got five things to look out for across the Festival…
So often the scourge of bookmakers at the festival, Carlow’s own Willie Mullins is arriving at the festival with a reduced team – but don’t think that means he won’t be visiting the winners enclosure a few times before the festival is out! Whether it’s Penhill in the Stayers’ Hurdle, Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair, or Kemboy in the big one – Friday’s Gold Cup – there’s plenty of possibilities for the man who’s won more Cheltenham races than any other trainer to add to his total…
Wednesday will see what many believe to be the surest thing of the festival, as the incredible Altior heads the field in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Winner of his last 18 races – including this one last time out – the Nicky Henderson-trained hope is well rested and very well fancied; it’s another chance to see a horse frequently cited as an all-time great!
Get your gladrags out – Wednesday is Ladies’ Day! The traditional favourite will see all manner of fancy frocks and humongous headgear donned on an afternoon that always makes for some prime people-watching! You can always get dolled up to get in the swing of things wherever you’re watching from; alternatively, you can just run the rule over the rigouts from the comfort of your couch!
ON THE MOVE
Changes to the iconic course aren’t common, so the news that the second-last obstacle on the Old Course is moving ten yards closer to home is noteworthy. Those in the know are in agreement that it’s a smart decision, giving the horses more time after the final bend to take off; the fact that it should create even more exhilarating competition as they head for home is just a bonus!
THE GOLD STANDARD
Even with four days of fabulous action, there’s little question of the main event; Friday’s Gold Cup will be the 91st running of the blue riband event, and is the one every trainer, jockey, owner – and, of course, punter! – wants to win. Reigning champ Native River will be looking to repeat, but it’s Irish hope Presenting Percy that’s expected to start as favourite. Legendary names like Arkle, Desert Orchid and Kauto Star will have company on the roll of honour – and there’s only way to find out who’ll be joining them!
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