Thursday 18 January 2018

They're ready for the off at Cheltenham -- but who'll win the big races?

The busy world is hushed. With just over two weeks remaining to the first Cheltenham festival of the new decade, most of the on-track preparations are complete.

Tomorrow's card at Leopardstown and the traditional racecourse galloping session thereafter may provide a few clues as to what's what, but the serious markers have been laid.

For the majority of Prestbury Park-bound trainers, it is now a case of simply nursing their respective hopefuls through the last couple of weeks.

And as they count down the days, so the rest of us crank up the tension. Preview nights, increased media coverage and full-blooded debate will abound from here.

Here, we take a preliminary look at the four championship events, as well as the two big opening-day novices.

Ten years after Istabraq landed the last of his three Champion Hurdles and Sausalito Bay beat Best Mate to give Noel Meade that elusive first festival winner in the Supreme Novice, the Tuesday promises to be a cracker once again.

Irish Independent

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