Good morning from Cheltenham on a cloudy and slightly hazy day, where we wait for a band of rain to pass and wonder if it will have any effect on this year’s Festival meeting going forward from the second day.
The first light rain occurred around 10 a.m. GMT and is expected to continue through the afternoon, with a forecast forecast of up to 2.6 mm/h from around noon. This will be on top of the 5mm that John Pullin, Cheltenham’s new clerk on the course, decided to apply overnight despite suggesting on Monday that there would be no more water on the old course this week.
“We’ve updated the ground in nicer, nicer-than-soft spots,” Pullin said in his early-morning briefing on Twitter. “After a dry day yesterday we decided to do some irrigation last night so an average of 5mm went over the top of the old [course] hill, and begins a two-mile run straight to the winning checkpoint. ,
Hopefully it won’t have a significant impact on the big race of the day – and possibly the week – when Nikki Henderson’s Shishkin line up against Energumen in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, a rematch after their epic first encounter at Clarence House Chase Ascot. In January with Chakun Pour Soi, last year’s favourite, joining his stablemate on the field – anointed by Willie Mullins as the better of his two runners – for one of the great festive occasions. The stage is ready.
It is the only grade one in the meeting that Mullins is yet to win, and it is not to try, along with Chakun Pour Soi (8-13), Douan (2-9) and Un de Sque (4-6). All failed to deliver in the last six years. Shishkin, however, is a tough opponent, unbeaten on 10 starts, since falling to second place on his hurdles debut. He was only a length in front of Energumen at Clarence House, which would give Mullins reason to hope, but after a stronger-than-expected start to the British stables on Tuesday, he is sure to be established as a strong favorite to get another Have a home win on the board.
Forty minutes after going into the record books for an outstanding horse in the champion chase, another great favorite will take his leave, as dual Grand National and five-time festival winner, Tiger Roll, is out in the cross country chase. Win or lose, Tiger is set to receive an encouraging farewell from fans, but a win would be the perfect end to Cheltenham’s career that began with a win in the two-mile Triumph Hurdle in 2014.
The only winner of the past six times at the festival is Cuevaga, who took the Mars handicap six times in a row, and coincidentally his first foal, Facil Vega, is expected to be the favorite for the bumper at the end. card.
Regular updates on betting, rain gauges and other news will be here as the day comes, and the first race, as usual, kicks off at 1.30 pm.