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Cheltenham Festival highlights: day two


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  • The hottest race of the year at Cheltenham is all about eggs. Horse & Hound bloodstock writer Ed Prosser brought some down from his mothers free-range chickens in Yorkshire to the house we share with three others in Evesham, and I have done the same from Herefordshire. Ed’s eggs are larger and suspiciously clean; mine are far more authentic, covered in dirt and straw. After two days the “egg-off” is a draw. Ed’s were possible superior when fried, but Herefordshire triumphed today in the scrambled stakes.

    After starting the day at the track with the traditional pint of super-G in the Guinness Village, former H&H deputy editor Emma Berry and I decided to leave the crowds behind us and take a different view of Cheltenham. We walked down the track and had a peak of a couple of yesterday’s cross-country fences, which looked great fun.

    The sun was shining, we were blissfully free of drunken punters bumping into us and it was delightful quiet. Deciding to forego our bets in the first on past form — I’m sure the bookies were gutted — we watched the Ballymore Properties Novice Hurdle from beside the second last flight. It really hit home how fast they go.

    We spotted one of our heros, the great Newmarket trainer Sir Mark Prescott walking the course and smoking an enormous cigar. He has never had a runner over jumps – perhaps he’s decided to stop to flogging Graham Wylie all his cast offs, such as Stayers Hurdler winner Inglis Drever and have a crack himself?

    The racing highlight of the day was stayed for last when H&H columnist Jessica Harrington took the Champion Bumper with the well fancied, Cork All Star. The column seems to be lucky at Cheltenham – James Fanshaw had Reveillez last year and Jessica looked very relieved when Barry Geraghty managed to bring Cork All Star home in front.

    We are now exactly halfway through the festival and the English are leading the Irish by some way. Great stories include the McCain family swapping success at Aintree for a first ever Cheltenham winner for Ginger’s son Donald in his first year of training. Dr Richard Newlands, who trains just five or six horses, won the Coral Cup with Burntoakboy. It would be amazing if he could double up with Overstrand in tomorrow’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

    Stay in touch with what happens in all the major races at the Cheltenham throughout the Festival — plus H&H racing editor’s thoughts on the day — on www.horseandhound.co.uk.

    See tomorrow’s Horse & Hound for a full Gold Cup form guide, and don’t miss Horse & Hound’s in-depth report on all the action in 22 March issue.

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