Cheltenham Festival: Heroes, Royals, and Rising Stars at Ascot Racecourse
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Cheltenham Festival: Heroes, Royals, and Rising Stars at Ascot Racecourse

The Most Anticipated Event on the Turf: Cheltenham Festival Just Hours Away

The Cheltenham Festival, known as the greatest show on turf, is finally upon us. Over the next four days, racegoers will witness the agony and ecstasy of top-class action on the track, as well as the vibrant atmosphere off it.

Every morning, Mail Sport will be providing a serving of Cheltenham Breakfast, covering all the happenings on and off the iconic racecourse in what promises to be another memorable week.

Meet Your Heroes

There was a compelling reason to abolish the saying “never meet your heroes” on Monday in Cheltenham’s parade ring. After a morning on the gallops, Rachael Blackmore carved out time to greet a group of schoolchildren who had come to see behind the scenes. Contrary to the common notion that athletes often pay lip service to such events, Blackmore made a point of speaking to every child, posing for photos, and leaving the young fans in awe. Blackmore’s incredible impact on the surge of young visitors to Irish racecourses in the last two years could be replicated here, providing a significant boost.

Royal Representation at Cheltenham?

Ascot’s link with the Royal family is indelible, and Cheltenham has also been a frequent beneficiary of having Royal attendance at the Festival over the years. This always increases interest, as one unwitting journalist discovered a year ago when trying to beat the crowds on Gold Cup day. Upon entering through a gate, the reporter was greeted by a phalanx of photographers, all with incredulous expressions, only to turn around and find the Princess Royal just 10 yards away. Given the title of Wednesday’s feature race, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, it would be fitting to see Royal representation on course, but the Buckingham Palace diary is not publicly discussed.

Bookies Fear Fact To File Payout

Anxiety is growing among bookmakers about the potential damage a victory for Fact To File in the Browns Advisory Chase could inflict. Word has reached Cheltenham Breakfast that he is potentially the best of all the JP McManus runners this week, with big things anticipated. One sound judge in Ireland has even talked about backing Fact Or File for the 2025 Cheltenham Gold Cup, suggesting the possibility of witnessing something special. However, no race at The Festival is ever a procession, and there has been growing support for Monty’s Star as a well-priced alternative, especially after trainer Henry De Bromhead’s recent run of form.

Donnelly’s Host of Outstanding Chances

During a dispatch for Racing TV, Nick Luck tracked down Joe Donnelly, who was having dinner with Nicky Henderson. Donnelly will have a host of outstanding chances this week, with his colors being carried by quality animals such as Shishkin and Shanagh Bob. His main hopes are State Man in the Champion Hurdle and Sir Gino, the favorite for the Triumph Hurdle. It’s not out of the question that Shishkin might also go close in the Gold Cup, having been coaxed back to form by Henderson.

The Towering Thomas Costello

The common perception that jockeys need to be small has been exploded by Thomas Costello, who stands at an impressive 6ft 4ins. He will tower above the competition in the parade ring before the opening Supreme Novices Hurdle, having been booked by Willie Mullins to ride Asian Master. Despite his imposing stature, Costello is not feeling nervous, stating, “I generally don’t suffer from nerves, so I think I’ll be fine. I still can’t believe I’ve got a ride in the Supreme.”

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