The biggest week of the racing calendar is almost upon us, as four days of jump-racing heaven descend on Gloucestershire for the hotly-anticipated Cheltenham Festival.
In years gone by suits were being sharpened, boots were being bought, and pints were being poured ahead of the drama to follow.
However, with there of course being no crowd this time around, more emphasis than ever before is being placed on the track, with the big question being – who to back?
To anyone still tossing coins over who to pick in the Gold Cup, or furiously undergoing research for the Champions Chase, Park Life Sport is here to help.
We caught up with ITV Racing broadcaster, and former eventer, Alice Plunkett, to figure out her tips for the week to follow.
TUESDAY – The Champion Hurdle
“So I’m sticking with Goshen in the Champion Hurdle all the way through.
“I understand that the two mares are great, but I’m going with Goshen, I so want Jamie Moore to win the Champion Hurdle, to get back some of the disappointment from last year.
“My outsider for Tuesday is Clondaw Castle, he runs in the Ultima (14:30). It’s Tom George’s horse, who won the Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton the other day.
“He’s a very good horse, he’s been placed in a chase, he’s got bags of class. You could’ve seen him turn up in a graded race at Cheltenham, but he’s going to turn up in a handicap.
“He’s only got one entry, that’s in the Ultima, and I really like him.”
WEDNESDAY – The Champion Chase
“The Champion Chase is so exciting isn’t it!
“I would love to see Altoir come back in and win. Chacun Pour Soi I think is probably the winner, so I’m sticking with Willie for that.
“The talk out of Ireland is that he’s an absolute certainty.”
THURSDAY – The Stayers’ Hurdle
“Paisley Park all the way for me!
“Come on the Paisley!
“But I do think the overlooked horse is last year’s winner trained by Rebecca Curtis, Lisnagar Oscar. He’s a decent horse, he ran okay at Newbury and then he choked.
“He just might run well at a big price.”
FRIDAY – The Gold Cup
“I’m all over Native River. Al Boum Photo I’m sure will win again, but with Native River, if we get some rain at the beginning of the week, he probably is ground-dependent these days, but in
his last 20 place runs the worst position he’s finished in is fourth and that was in a Gold Cup.
“He’s the most extraordinary horse. The yard have had a terrible season but I would just love it, absolutely love it, if Native River could go on and win another Gold Cup – imagine that.”
Cheltenham Festival will last for four days and start on Tuesday, March 16 at 1:30pm.