WHAT I really, really want... A terrific Cheltenham with some brilliant winners. Yes, it can be done. And let’s shut up all the naysayers for at least a week. It’s not Cheltenham’s fault that National Hunt racing is now much less competitive. And if you still can’t find some wonderful potential and excitement over the week - then fly off to Dubai!

We’ll start at the finish – the Festival saving the best ‘til last. I really, really hope Galopin Des Champs marks himself out as an outstanding chaser in winning a second Gold Cup.

Who can stop him? Could we have any other surprise but a raise the roof win? It’s high time we had a female Gold Cup winning trainer. Could Venetia or Lucinda pull it off?

And Hewick is the ultimate fairytale. Or could Gentlemansgame roll back the years? It’s 50 years since a young Michael Morris combined with the then Cheltenham banker Edward O’Grady to partner Mr Midland to win the National Hunt Chase.

And the dashing grey would look well on a Saturday front page?

For the old breeding purists there’s history there too - Broadsword and Rydewells Daughter in the pedigree. There’s justice needed for the family.

But the key to the Gold Cup is where is the pace? Last year we had Ahoy Senor and Hewick. No Ahoy this year and reports of a more patiently ridden Hewick. Similar for Bravemansgame. It would be bold to go forward with Shishkin. Fastorslow is held up and would pacemaking suit Gerri Colombe? L’Homme Presse perhaps but you can’t really see a strong pace which could suit Galopin Des Champs class?

I want a three-horse race to the last a la Viking Flagship, Travado, Deep Sensation finish in the Champion Chase and why can’t I get it? I may sound mad to be backing a horse for a championship race who was beaten over 63 lengths in last year but it is with Edwardstone I go.

The Champion Hurdle suffers the most from the weaker hurdling division. State Man brings better credentials than many past winners for all that it’s much less the race it was two weeks ago.

Lossiemouth could be a real star and Ballyburn an exceptional novice to give hope of next year’s Champion Hurdle being one to savour.

The Ryanair gets abuse but if you have classy front runners in Protecktorat and Stage Star against Envoi Allen and a few nice outsiders – it is not a bad race.


We can still pull the big emotional winners out of the hat. Imagine if Paisley Park gets there on the line? It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility. Beaten by a head giving 6lb to Noble Yeats last time? Or Flooring Porter to fight them all off again?

We really really want David Christie and Barry O’Neill to win the Foxhunters. A fascinating contest in its own right. Its On The Line stops in front and Ferns Lock may need to be nursed home too. And could Foxy Jacks beat the Grade 1 gang in the Cross-Country?

And among the handicaps, it’s a wait for declarations and better bookies places offers now. I’ve liked the way Letsbeclearaboutit has been campaigned all year, stepping down from Grade 1 company and getting a nice bit of experience. And for a sneaky one, Mighty Tom in the Grand Annual could be better than he has yet shown over fences.