Paul Nicholls - Here we go! - Cheltenham 2011

Tuesday - Champion Hurdle Day

After all the hype and the season long build up, its time for the talking to stop and the action to begin as we have finally arrived at the first morning of The 2011 Cheltenham Festival.

All of us involved here at Ditcheat can't wait to get going and we shall be sending a team of around 30 horses to compete in all the top contests over the next four days. As usual, you head into the meeting with the initial ambition of picking up at least one winner.  Anything above that is a bonus and if you can pick up the graded races and in particular any of the big four then it puts the icing on your season. 

Cheltenham is an addiction to all of us involved in racing, desperate to have a winner and yet every time you do, you just want another one for that wonderful feeling of a Festival victory to go on and on.

Tuesday's card kicks off with The Grade 1 Stan James Supreme Novices Hurdle and as usual get ready to hear the roar as they let the tapes fly!  We then have The Grade 1 Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy before a really competitive Grade 3 Handicap Chase over three miles sponsored by Big Buck's owners, The Stewart Family.  The feature of the day is the fourth race on the card, The Grade 1 Stan James Champion Hurdle, a race I can sit back and relax and enjoy this year as we don't have a runner.  Next comes the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase followed by The Grade 2 David Nicholson Mares Hurdle and finally a new race, The Listed Centenary Novices Handicap Chase which gives the younger two and a half mile Novice Chasers a chance of Festival glory. We have plenty of runners competing today and I will be providing a full run down and appraisal of my Cheltenham runners daily in my Racing Column exclusive to Betfair  www.betfair.com/paulnicholls

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