Ten talking-points that defined the 2018 Cheltenham Festival

Hard to believe it’s over for another year, isn’t it? Hard to believe, after the long drawn-out prologue, that the four days flashed by so fast.

Horse Racing
Buveur D'Air wins the Champion Hurdle at last year's Cheltenham Festival. He is a short-priced favourite to land a repeat success.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: eve-of-meeting selections for every race

If you haven’t booked the week off work, you’re reading the wrong column. This is a work-free zone. This is a Cheltenham Festival zone.

Horse Racing
Native River, third last year, is expected to go close again in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: preview of the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup

I am old enough to remember the days when the Cheltenham Festival primarily revolved around the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup.

Horse Racing
Buveur D'Air wins the Champion Hurdle at last year's Cheltenham Festival. He is a short-priced favourite to land a repeat success.

Cheltenham Festival fever is here again!

Not long now. Not long until you can banish your stresses and strains, park your family problems, put on hold your job worries and even forget about Brexit.

Horse Racing
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies shows his affection for popular veteran The New One, who is back for his seventh Cheltenham Festival run.

COUNTDOWN TO CHELTENHAM: golden rules for a successful week of punting

The Beast From The East is doing its darnedest to spoil things. But the Beasts From The West, alias the battalions from the yards of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, will soon be on their way, and the Cheltenham Festival is almost ready to unleash a roar mightier than any Siberian blast of snow, wind and ice can muster.

Horse Racing
One For Arthur back home after his Grand National triumph at Aintree last year. He is flanked by trainer Lucinda Russell, her partner, former champion jockey Peter Scudamore, and groom Jaimie Duff.

GRAND NATIONAL: ante-post shortlist of seven for Aintree’s great race

With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, it seems incongruous to start talking about the Grand National.

Horse Racing
Altior (right) on his way to victory, and a classy comeback, in the Betfair Exchange Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on Saturday.

COUNTDOWN TO CHELTENHAM: Altior and Native River back with a bang

The weather didn’t play ball, but since when has it? Behind the veneer of sheeting rain and icy winds, Newbury’s pre-Cheltenham Festival meeting at the weekend very much fitted the ‘Super Saturday’ template that was created for it.

Horse Racing
Total Recall, who was one of seven winners for champion trainer Willie Mullins at the new Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

Ireland showcases the cream of Jumps racing -- ahead of more dominance at Cheltenham Festival

The decision to switch TV coverage of Irish racing from At The Races to Racing UK from next January has caused consternation and triggered quite a kerfuffle.

Horse Racing
Racing remains the second-best attended sport in the UK, behind only football.

Ditch the myths -- it’s cool and hip to go racing, especially on the Flat

A couple of myths that tend to sit lazily, and largely unchallenged, on racing’s debating table, have been exploded by the latest research released by the Racecourse Association (RCA).

Horse Racing
An exclusive collection of 25 horses to have caught the eye this Jumps season and likely to go on to big-race success. (PHOTO BY: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

COUNTDOWN TO CHELTENHAM: horses to follow from the Jumps season so far

Inexorably, inevitably, the Cheltenham Festival is swinging into view. The rest of the Jumps season, which now resembles one, long dress-rehearsal, one, long schooling session, has hit the home straight and the winning post of mid-March is on the horizon.

Horse Racing
The favourite, Poetic Rhythm (right), pounces late on Mulcahy's Hill, to win the Grade One Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.

CHRISTMAS RACING REVIEW: from Faugheen and Might Bite to Sizing John and Buveur D’Air

Like unwanted presents strewn at the bottom of the Christmas tree, a sackful of shocks and surprises rocked the racing programme over the festive holiday.

Horse Racing
Blaklion, impressive winner of the Randox Health Becher Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree on Saturday.

Gold Cup hero back with bang in weekend that was Sceaux (or Sceau) good

You had to know your Sceaux from your Sceau when analysing and assessing a weekend of racing action that warmed the cockles of even the coldest of hearts amid the ice and snow.

Horse Racing
Total Recall, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend, won the first edition of the �250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.

All the stars aligned as Newbury serves up best meeting of Jumps season so far

It’s not often all the stars are aligned and you get all your ducks in a row at a race meeting. But that was definitely the case last weekend at Newbury, who dished up the best, and most enjoyable, fare of the Jumps season so far.

Horse Racing
Racing legend John Francome, who was champion jockey seven times.

Legend John Francome looks back as Newbury’s big race begins new era

You might know it as the Hennessy Gold Cup. But you have to get used to calling it the Ladbrokes Trophy from now on.

Horse Racing
Elgin (left) powers past long-time leader Misterton at the final flight to win the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, the feature race on Sunday. (PHOTO BY: Julian Herbert/PA Wire/PA Images)

Cheltenham’s November meeting was the most underwhelming I can remember

Cheltenham’s November meeting, better known under its previous guise as The Open or even the Paddy Power, is so popular that its reputation is largely untouchable.

Horse Racing
Jockey Danny Tudhope after he was crowned Cock O' The North at Doncaster on Saturday.

Buoyant Tudhope crowned Cock O’ The North jockey for the first time

There are those who reckon Doncaster’s November Handicap meeting, which wrapped up a magnificent 2017 Flat season on Saturday, has lost its pizzazz.

Horse Racing
Saxon Warrior wins the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster to give trainer Aidan O'Brien the new world record for Group One wins in a calendar year.

HORSES TO FOLLOW: 20 promising 2yos to remember for the Flat next spring

With just one weekend of the Flat season to go, courtesy of a terrific card at Doncaster, the mindsets of most punters are now switched on to the Jumps game. And it’s a time of year when many of us draw up horses to follow through the winter and on to the big festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown next spring.

Horse Racing
Champion jockey Richard Johnson (left) with one of his main challengers for this year's title trophy, Sam Twiston-Davies. (PHOTO BY: Fiona Crawford)

Richard Johnson in the box-seat for his third jump jockeys’ championship

Once the Breeders’ Cup is out of the way, the focus of the racing community can switch wholeheartedly to the Jumps season, which stepped up a gear with the first meeting at Cheltenham last weekend.

Horse Racing
Cracksman and jockey Frankie Dettori, showing off his trademark flying dismount, who were the stars of the show on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot. (PHOTO BY: Simon Hulme, Yorkshire Post Newspapers)

Frankel legacy lives on thanks to Cracksman, star of Ascot’s Champions Day

Journeying down to Ascot on Saturday, I was staggered to read in one of the previews that the Qipco British Champions Day concept had a “difficult birth” back in 2011.

Horse Racing
One of the star attractions of Qipco Champions Day, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes favourite Ribchester, with his trainer Richard Fahey, at an open day at his yard last month. (PHOTO BY: Tony Johnson).

Race-by-race guide and tips for Qipco Champions Day at Ascot

Long gone are the days when you waved goodbye to the Flat season on the tail of the winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the first Sunday in October.

Horse Racing
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