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cheltenham racecourse signsLike a Sunday lunch that takes hours to cook and is demolished in a matter of moments, the Cheltenham Festival seems to have gone in the blink of an eye in comparison to how long we were all looking forward to its arrival.

2019 feels like a year in which plenty of things threatened to happen but none of them did; from the equine flu crisis that seemed as thought it might cause Cheltenham to be cancelled through to the drones that we were led to believe would be invading the course via the wind that might have seen Wednesday’s racing called off altogether, it was a Festival that was nearly threatened but ultimately survived.

cheltenham gold cup representation

The Cheltenham Festival week is one of the most exciting in racing, if not sport in general, but it’s unquestionably true that it has been building up to this moment.

The Gold Cup remains the standout race of an excellent week, with seasoned punters and those with only a passing interest in the sport alike getting up for this one.

There are three Grade 3 races and three Grade 1 offerings in among it all, with the Gold Cup obviously being the feature race, hence the moniker of Gold Cup Day being attached to this one.

festival 12Two days of racing down and two to go by the time St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, with 14 top-class races having already run their course.

St. Paddy’s Day is also when the shift happens and the racing moves off the Old Course and onto the New, so information you’ve gleaned about the running has to be taken with a pinch of salt until you see how the New Course runs.

The key race today is the Stayers Hurdle, which has seen some brilliant horses crowned as champion on numerous occasions. The Ryanair Chase is also worth watching, arguably being even more exciting than usual this season as you’ll discover.

The safety of horses competing at Cheltenham Racecourse has been high on the agenda recently, with interest sparked in no small part because of the decision of the Rooneys to firstly boycott Cheltenham and then to change their minds.

Their wavering came itself on the back of news that 7 horses, one of them belonging to the Rooneys, died at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. Those deaths resulted in a review of the meeting by the British Horseracing Authority that offered the course 17 different recommendations to improve the welfare of the competing horses at future events.

ladies day 2019 badgeThe combination of everyone off the course dressing up the nines and the amazing racing taking place on it makes Ladies Day a thrilling occurrence during the Cheltenham Festival.

The thrill comes from the fact that 4 of the 7 races are Grade 1 offerings, with the others being made up of 2 Grade 3 races and the ungraded Cross Country Chase. In other words there’s plenty of top-class racing for you to sink your teeth into, with the standout race being the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

champion day 1The Cheltenham Festival is coming and plenty of punters will be considering which horses to place their bets on and what they need to know.  Luckily you've landed on this page, where you can find indendent previews and tips for all the races on Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival 2019.

The meeting gets underway with Champion Day, which features 4 Grade 1 races and 1 each of Grade 2, Grade 3 and Listed races. Obviously the biggest of them all is the Champion Hurdle that the day takes its name from, with Buveur D’Air being the unquestionable favourite after winning the race twice in a row before now.

DroneJust before Christmas 2018 there was chaos for British holidaymakers when drones being used close to Gatwick Airport resulted in flights in and out of the airport being suspended. In excess of 1,400 people were affected, with close to 1,000 flights being cancelled across 36 hours of disruption. In the end the RAF had to be called in with anti-drone equipment in order to end the nightmare to those looking to fly into and out of Gatwick, costing the airport around £5 million.

Now it looks as though Cheltenham Racecourse are going to have to do something to stop the devices from being used during the Cheltenham Festival to give gamblers an edge during races.

flu virusA fortnight ago I wrote about how the outbreak of equine flu was threatening the cancellation of the Cheltenham Festival, with the risk of having horses together in the same place too great in terms of the spreading of the illness.

It came on the back of revelations that horses from Donald McCain’s Bankhouse Stables had come down with the illness but that it had been discovered after horses had taken part in races at Ludlow, Wolverhampton and Ayr, increasing the risk of spreading the disease.

At the start of January I wrote a piece about how Paul and Clare Rooney had told their trainers that they didn’t want their horses to be entered into races at Cheltenham Racecourse indefinitely.

The decision came on the back of the British Horseracing Authority’s investigation into the deaths of 7 horses during the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, as well as the death of Rooneys own horse Starchitect.

In 2019 the likes of I’m A Game Changer and If The Cap Fits were set to miss out on horse racing’s showpiece meeting, but it now appears as though the pair have decided to reverse their decision.

Cheltenham Racecourse has come under fire recently for the safety of its course, particularly after it emerged that 4 horses died in the space of 3 days in November.

Two horses died on the Friday of a meeting in November, though it was in 2 separate incidents, and then another died on the Saturday when running on the straight. Finally, London Prize suffered a fall on a downhill hurdle and had to be put down after landing on its neck.