Cheltenham Festival: how the big races are shaping up

The gatecrashing of the Champion Hurdle party by APPLE’S JADE at the weekend is the big talking-point as the countdown to the Cheltenham Festival hots up.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 5:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:46 pm
Thumbs up from champion jockey Richard Johnson after Native River's stirring victory in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup. (PHOTO BY: Michael Steele/Getty Images).

The victory of Gordon Elliott’s mare was one of the highlights of the two-day Dublin Festival at Leopardstown. The meeting was scarred on the Saturday by the omission of obstacles because of low sun, and then spoiled on the Sunday by a plethora of non-runners, caused by quick ground. But it still set Festival minds racing, so I thought it would be an oppportune time to assess how the big five races of the meeting in mid-March are shaping up.