Brendan Duke’s Day One dispatch and Day Two picks from the Festival

Our man on the ground, Brendan Duke, gives us an insight into what it's like to spend several hours trying to get to Prestbury Park...


Difficulties continue for your intrepid Cheltenham correspondent.

The rocky voyage over was a breeze in comparison with the UK road network. The prosecution calls the M6. M for mare.

A couple of trucks collided resulting in a 2 hour delay. A testing time in the car. The driver and I engaged in some perspective to pass the time. Worse for the truck drivers we decided. That thought got us through the first hour. The second was spent deciding which medieval torture devices we would inflict on them.

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Further annoyance came from forgetting to pack a toothbrush. My dentist’s heart goes as low as only a woman’s heart can go when I confess to my slipshod flossing regimen. Not brushing for a week would be the end of her. Luckily my landlady, Ruby no less, did me a massive solid in dropping me to Tesco to pick one up. Only a victory for Carefully Selected could see her fail to land the award of my favourite Ruby of the week.

My walk to get some breakfast, an army marches on its stomach, began in the rain. It finished in bright sunshine. Umbrella or sunglasses? How’s a man expected to accessorise? After a hearty breakfast I’m in high spirits though. To the course driver and don’t spare the horses.

Glorious day in Cheltenham. Definitely one for the sunglasses.

It really is God’s own country. Footpad overcoming adversity and a thrilling Champion Hurdle the highlights. Only one Ruby as far as the Cheltenham faithful are concerned. On to tomorrow.

Race 1: Ballymore Novices Hurdle – 13:30

Samcro is some sight to behold. Hopefully prove as good as he looks.

Race 2: RSA Chase – 14:10

Dounikos has progressed all season. This stamina test will likely unlock further improvement. That may well be enough here.

Race 3: Coral Cup – 14:50

Topofthegame should arguably be unbeaten over hurdles this season. His mark is no bargain but I’m expecting a big run.

Race 4: Champion Chase – 15:30

The race of the meeting. Think Altior will win but a peak form Douvan would be a handful.

Race 5: Cross Country Chase – 16:10

Auvergnat will relish the ground. Should go close.

Race 6: Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap – 16:50

Oxford Blu is a hardy sort. Will carry him a long way in this ground.

Race 7: Weatherbys Champion Bumper – 17:30

Carefully Selected is not as slow as advertised. Will travel well and stay on strong. Looks the bet of the day at a double figure price.

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