'Tudor' to reign for Irish at Cheltenham
Many Irish racegoers' favourite meeting to attend is at Cheltenham - the one that begins today rather than the March extravaganza.
Some top horses return to action and the Irish challenge tends to be formidable. One of the raiders immediately takes the eye in the Opus Energy Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
Tony Martin provided a strongly fancied favourite 12 months ago in Dollar And A Dream but Tudor City looks to have more in hand. For a son of Yeats, he is relatively quick, his two wins coming on the Flat. He is nought from six hurdling but there should be more to come under Davy Russell.
Many eyes are on Barters Hill in the novice chase. That he is making his chase debut is far from ideal but he may have the class to compensate.
Ben Pauling's horses are in such form as to engender confidence in backers of this hardy six-year-old, which won all seven starts until an honourable fourth in the Albert Bartlett when last seen. Peter Fahey sends over rapid improver Peregrine Run in the Grade Two novice hurdle but the very promising Baden looks really threatening off 11st.
The opening veterans' contest could go the way of Astracad, which won on his seasonal debut last year and is now 1lb lower.
The BetVictor Handicap Chase sees an interesting raider in Pairofbrowneyes, trained by Barry Murphy, son of Ferdy, so long respected at this track. He has the talent to get involved.
The Tony Martin-trained Our Sox bids to go much better in the finale than he did when struggling 12 months ago but this is a good race and Fayette County, which proved his stamina at Worcester, remains well-treated.