God I think I'm going to die of impatience/excitement!
Four days of heavy gambling & even heavier drinking will be done by some. Over £500 million nationwide will be bet on the runners & riders of the 25 races that take place over the four days, it's been known for one person to bet over a million pounds on one horse to win (Francois Doumen, owner & trainer of Baracouda. Baracouda lost......)
Over £6 million will be handed out in prize money to the winning owners & over the week, 230,000 people will descend on Cheltenham to witness The Festival.
229,999 of which will be Irish... At least that's what it feels like!
The Gold Cup is the highlight of the jump calendar & it's the race every jump jockey, trainer, owner & horse work for all year. It's the last race, on the last day of every Festival.
There are 34 runners for this years race (barring non runners) & a total prize money of £450,000.
Shame I'm not in hospital for knee stuff over the Festival, loads of jockeys get carted in for various breaks & fractures. The whole Orthopaedic unit is dedicated to them & was opened by Richard Dunwoody (I think...)
Kauto Star under Ruby Walsh.
This year it's going to be a two horse race for me. Will last years Kauto Star prove victorious again? Or will newcomer, Denman take the prize?
Denman under Ruby Walsh.
Ruby is going to be on board Kauto Star again this year but both Kauto & Denman are favourites to win.
It's not at all often that a horse wins the cup more than once. It took 46 years for a horse to beat Arkle's record, Best Mate.
I'm inclined to go with Denman to be honest. Kauto Star has the speed but he's not careful over his jumps & he doesn't have the stamina that Denman has. On the run in to the post that's going to prove the decider. Denman has got the power to be a serious contender this year, he was only a novice last year but after 12 months of maturity & extra training he is a serious hope. He certainly has the stamina to hold it together.
After 22 fences & a three & a quarter mile course they're going to be knackered. The thing with Cheltenham is it's a hilly course & there is a killer on the run in to the post, it's a long steady uphill climb, add to that lot heavy going & it's one long slog for them all. And it's the run in where the stragglers get knocked to the back & it is quite often between three/four horses. The roar of the crowd on the run in is deafening, all you can hear are people screaming & shouting for their respective horse to come in, forget the commentary because you won't be hearing it if you're there.
I love the atmosphere we get over race week, it's brilliant. Everything is packed in the town for the whole four days, accommodation is booked solid & the bars in Cheltenham are absolutely rammed with people celebrating wins or drinking away their sorrows. Hundreds of extra staff get booked at Cheltenham just to wait on & serve/cook for the people there & temp staff are always needed in the bars etc. It's definitely a part of the tapestry & I adore it!
My tip is Denman but don't blame me if you lose the beer money! ;o)