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Road to Cheltenham

So it is that time of the year again- pray silence for the pre Cheltenham trips.

The greatest show on turf begins in three weeks and I am not too demanding, just 27 good things for the races at the richest Festival ever need to be established.

From Berkshire, to two days in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Cheshire and County’s Meath and Kildare, it will be whistle stop- but only time will tell if miles maketh winners when it all starts for real in just three weeks.

Day 1 and ‘The Valley of the Horse’ as the welcome sign proclaims. Lambourn in Berkshire and the man they call Mr Cheltenham after seven winners last year swept him to the top of the tree- Nicky Henderson.

There’s big news. My Tent or Yours, a facile winner of what, to this pair of eyes looked a substandard Betfair Hurdle goes for the Supreme and not the Champion- and in all he is set to run some 40 horses.

No doubt the star turn- the imperious Sprinter Sacre, the weeks good thing and set to go off as the shortest priced favourite for a Festival race since Arkle in the Queen Mother Champion Chase- a star, and doesn’t he know it.

But the success of these ventures is to watch and listen. Watching that Arkle hope Simonsig spat out two carrots( hold the front page) and listening to the Master Trainer talk up former Champion Hurdler Binocular.

And noticing too, that in nearly 90 minutes of wonderfully articulate and helpful media interviews he never once mentioned the words that are Irish for ‘salvation’ for the thousands of pilgrims in Festival week- Willie Mullins!

Team Henderson is the envy of almost any heading to ‘Mecca’ next month- with serious hopes of him winning all four of the Crown Jewel Championship races.

But we need things to compare it with- and next stop is jump racing’s all time greatest winner factor. Pond House Nicolashayne and David Pipe’s chance to impress.

Mike ‘keep your halo straight’ Vince

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