Arkle the highlight of a pulsating first day
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO
After months of intense build-up, the start of the festival is always a moment to savour, even though the famous roar will be somewhat muted this year. The excitement levels of that first day never seem to wane and the Tuesday of Cheltenham has long been a personal favourite. Attracted to racing in the first place by the sight of the top horses jumping at speed over two miles, that passion is satisfied on three exhilarating occasions in the space of two breathless hours. First the Supreme, then the Arkle and building up to the crescendo of the Champion Hurdle. It is the Arkle that just about shades it – and I’m not just saying that because the Racing Post sponsored it for the last nine runnings. The ultimate test of a novice chaser, the race has a long-established record of producing superstars of the future and this year promises to be no different. Shishkin versus Energumene has all the makings of the big duel of the week. Britain v Ireland. Henderson v Mullins. Both unbeaten over fences. What’s not to like? Once they cross the line in the final race of the opening day – the National Hunt Chase this year – the reassuring presence of three more magical days is slightly tinged with regret the ever-tantilising Tuesday is over for another year.