All about Cheltenham: Five things not to miss in the racing week

We look ahead to next week's racing action where it is all about Cheltenham. Here are the things that are not to be missed. 

OPENING SALVO

Buveur D'Air v Faugheen is the key contest on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. The Tuesday feature has been eagerly anticipated with reigning champion Buveur D'Air having enjoyed a perfect preparation while Faugheen is the former champion on the ropes, looking for redemption following two shock defeats this campaign.

Faugheen
Faugheen

The Unibet Champion Hurdle certainly provides a worthy curtain-raiser on a day that also features the Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase, the OLBG Mares' Hurdle and the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle as the supporting Grade Ones.

ALTIOR TO SOAR?

Another Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins battle is the headline talking point on day two of the Festival as Altior and Min are on course to clash in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Altior
Altior

Altior bagged the Arkle in some style last year and had Mullins' Min beaten some seven lengths in the 2016 Supreme. If Mullins' other two-mile ace, Douvan, is also thrown into the mix, we could potentially have one of the best races for many a year over the minimum trip. The RSA Insurance Novices' Chase, Ballymore Novices' Hurdle and Weatherbys Champion bumper are the other top-level heats.

SUPA SUCCESS

Supasundae hit the target in the Coral Cup for Jessica Harrington last year and following his Irish Champion Hurdle success, he is a short-priced favourite for the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle.

All about Cheltenham: Five things not to miss in the racing week

There is plenty to talk about in the home defence, though, with Sam Spinner, who is trained by a relatively unfamiliar name in Jedd O'Keeffe, heading the British contingent after his Grade One win at Ascot before Christmas. The Ryanair Chase shares top billing on day three when popular veterans Un De Sceaux and Cue Card are set to cross swords over the intermediate trip of two miles and five furlongs.

GOLD-EN GLORY

Friday sees the crown jewel in British National Hunt racing, the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sadly, Sizing John will not be defending his crown, but Jessica Harrington can still call on Our Duke.

All about Cheltenham: Five things not to miss in the racing week

Last year's wayward RSA Chase winner Might Bite leads the market for Henderson following his King George win and with Minella Rocco and Native River, who were both placed last year, set to try again, an open renewal is in prospect. Apple's Shakira is currently top dog in the JCB Triumph Hurdle market with the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle the last piece of the Festival Grade One puzzle.

FESTIVAL HANGOVER

For those that haven't quite drunk enough or lost enough money at Cheltenham, Saturday's action is pretty decent and could provide a final hurrah. Kempton's card features a string of Festival consolation events highlighted by the two-and-a-half-mile Silver Bowl, while the Betfred Midlands Grand National is the headline event at Uttoxeter.

- PA

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