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Post by Mr Admin on Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:51 am

Cheltenham Festival 2013

Cheltenham Festival is going to be here very soon! Here is a breakdown of what to expect this year:-

Day 1 - Tuesday 12th March - Champion Day

Seven cracking races, including the Stan James Champion Hurdle. Entertainment includes: The Roving Crows - Guinness Village, Master Butchers - Tented Village, Kings of Queen - Best Mate & Centaur, LHG Disco - Best Mate Enclosure

Day 2 - Wednesday 13th March - Ladies Day

All of the usual Cheltenham fun with Ladies dressing up for the Ladies Day Fashion Awards; drinking Champagne, and having fun! Entertainment as follows:- Black Velvet - Guinness Village, Master Butchers - Tented Village, New York Jazz Band - Entrance & Roaming, Chip Shop Boys - Best Mate & Centaur, LHG Disco - Best Mate Enclosure

Day 3 - Thursday 14th March - St Patrick's Day

A real Irish flavour to this day is guaranteed, as revellers celebrate St Patrick’s Day a couple of days early! The racing is as competitive as ever, with the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase at the centre of attention. The Entertainment will be as follows: Saddle The Pony - Guinness Village ,Master Butchers - Tented Village, Fiddler - Entrance Balcony, Rollercoaster - Best Mate & Centaur, LHG Disco - Best Mate

Day 4 - Friday 15th March - Cheltenham Gold Cup Day

The climax of the entire Jump racing season is the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, the highlight of arguably the best day’s racing of the year, with an atmosphere to match. Entertainment as follows:Naymedici - Guinness Village, Master Butchers - Tented Village, Jockey Statue - Entrance Balcony, Rollin Clones - Best Mate & Centaur, LHG Disco - Best Mate Enclosure

As always, the Cheltenham Gold Cup will capture the nation’s attention; the question this year is whether previous winners Long Run or Imperial Commander can triumph again or will there be a new name on the Roll of Honour?

This year there is a record number of 1,145 entries for the 11 handicaps. The total is up 48 on the previous best in 2009, when more races were added to the festival, and Ireland's tally of 302 is a record for the country.

In addition, there are 10 French trained entries - 8 more that nominated by trainers across the Channel in the previous 3 years combined.

The French figure involves 8 individual horses, with the likes of Jacques Ortet and Emmanuel Clayeux set to have their first runners at the meeting. Another festival newcomer, Chantilly-based Yann Porzier, is aiming at the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase with Aintree-bound Odysseas alongside his two candidates in the novice fuddle division, after being among a group of French trainers invited to last months Trials Day.

One time festival regular, Arnaud Chaille-Chaille could have his first runners since sending 3 horses owned by Sean Mulryan from his base in SW France in 2006.

The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase has attracted 5 entries from across the Channel, including 2 trained by Francois Cottin, the last French-based trainer to saddle a festival runner in 2011.

Ortet is set to be represented in the same race by Quick Fire, who would also be a first festival runner to sport the blue-and-green checked silks of France's champion owners, the Papot family.

In addition to being able to start unravelling the puzzles that are the festival handicaps, punters and connections will also have to grapple with the news watering could take place at Prestbury Park. BetVictor make good ground (11-4) a shorter price than soft (7-2) to be the going for the first race come March 12th.

The vast majority of racing at the course this winter has taken place on heavy ground following prolonged rainfall, but with a forecast of generally drier conditions for the next 3 weeks, it could be good to soft by the beginning of next week, with 2 weeks until the meeting starts. Cold and dry weather is expected to continue well into next week, with strong winds also likely to influence the ground.

A Met Office spokeswoman said: "Some areas are likely to stay a little colder than average over the next few days, with some more frosty nights to come."

A close source to Cheltenham told us "We are expecting security to be increased this year due to the shortage of good quality Horse on the EU market, and a continuing upward trend in demand."

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