Racing Post's Cheltenham Festival Preview

The countdown is well and truly on to the pinnacle of jumps racing in Britain and the standout star of Cheltenham, who will be competing in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, is the Nicky Henderson-trained Altior. The nine-year-old looks to extend his winning run to 18 and has been victorious at the last three Festivals. He will no doubt be the headline act on day two of this year's meeting.

Day one could belong to the Gordon Elliott-trained Apple’s Jade, who has won each of her four runs this season by at least 11 lengths. The seven-year-old is aiming to extend that sequence in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, in which she will meet Buveur D’Air, who has been victorious in the race for the last two years and has lost only twice since November 2015.

Thursday will witness a host of top-level runners facing off in the Ryanair Chase, and Un De Sceaux will be looking to reclaim the title he won in 2017 after losing last year’s renewal to Balko Des Flos. The popular 11-year-old, who has won nine Grade 1s over the course of his career, proved he was still at the top of his game when edged out by Altior in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December, and could make it a terrific ten top-flight victories for trainer Willie Mullins.

The curtain comes down following the action of day four, but with a wide open Magners-backed Gold Cup on the cards it will be anything but a flat finish. Clan Des Obeaux put the entire chasing scene on notice on Boxing Day when cruising to victory in the King George, defeating a number of big names. He followed that up with a commanding win at Ascot and could be the one to stop Native River’s hopes of back-to-back Gold Cup wins.

by The Racing Post at Rewards4Racing

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