It’s known as the greatest show on turf, and it has finally arrived. That’s right, the Cheltenham Festival is just hours away.
Across the next four days there will be agony and ecstasy on the track, but also plenty of fun off it.
Every morning Sportsmail will be dishing up a serving of Cheltenham Breakfast, taking a look at everything happening on and off the iconic racecourse in what is set to be another memorable week.
We have lift-off… just!
The Irish takeover at Cheltenham started over the weekend with trainers, jockeys, pundits and punters all taking the pilgrimage to the showpiece event.
Among the travellers were Racing Post editor David Jennings and trainer Gordon Elliott – but they had to help out the cabin crew.
Trainer Gordon Elliott (pictured) had to be moved just to allow his aeroplane to take off
Due to an imbalance of weight on the aircraft, the pair were asked to move up the front to even things out before take-off. Both saw the funny side.
220,000 pints of the black stuff
The Irish takeover continues with its famous stout. Punters will soak up the atmosphere and plenty of Guinness throughout the week. There’s a whole village dedicated to it after all.
According to The Sun, punters are expected to drink 220,000 pints across the course of the four days. That’s over 50,000 pints per day!
St Patrick’s Day also falls on the most popular day of the week – Gold Cup Friday.
Will there be a single drop of Guinness left in the place by the time the curtain falls on the 2023 edition?
220,000 pints of Guinness are expected to be consumed across the four-day Festival
Irish face late dash for press passes
Not ideal preparations for the Irish press jetting in to watch the nation’s horses compete for the Prestbury Cup at Cheltenham.
Their passes were sent out weeks ago but, due to strikes, none of the travelling party have received them.
Instead, they had to shoot to the course earlier than planned on Monday, or they will have to make an earlier start on Tuesday to ensure they get in. No such problems for the British journalists.
With the strength of the Irish contingent on the track, the Brits will take any small win.
Fitzgerald’s your man!
Choosing which tipster to follow for Cheltenham week is always a tough ask but, if the history books are anything to go by, you’d do far worse than keeping an eye on ITV pundit Mick Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald writes for Paddy Power News and he ended up taking the betting company to the cleaners last year when he tipped up three winners and two tasty each-way finishers for readers.
The biggest price of his fancies for day one is Fanion D’estruval in the Ultima at 2.50pm, which is shortening by the minute.
If he strides home for Venetia Williams on Tuesday, Fitzgerald will be costing the company a fortune.
Racegoers will be hoping to win some money, and Paddy Power are offering some free bets
Paddy Power’s free bets
Every Paddy Power punter has been given a free bet in their online account on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to use on any race – and two horses are catching the eye.
Fastorslow, running in the Ultima, and Willie Mullins’s Brandy Love in the Mares’ Hurdle at 4.10pm are the two best-backed horses among customers.
Both have costly liabilities on them which have left traders fearful.
50k up for grabs with Paddy Power
If the free bets weren’t enough, Paddy Power have another couple of generous offerings as they gear up for the action. Their free-to-play Pick 5 game – available to play on Paddy Power News throughout the Festival – promises a share of 50k if you can pick five winners.
And if picking horses is just too taxing, there’s 100k cash being dropped in 20 random customers’ accounts as part of their Finders Keepers show on YouTube on Tuesday morning (8.30am).
Let’s hope for a more successful day than Monday, where the same was done then but no customers logged in to claim it. They were left with 500 quid each as a consolation.
Paddy Power have another couple of generous offerings as they gear up for the action
Honeysuckle’s last hurrah
Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle have formed a heartwarming partnership.
Their historic win in the Champion Hurdle in 2021 launched the sport into the spotlight as Blackmore became the first-ever female winner of a championship race at Cheltenham.
The duo teamed up again last year to claim the opening day’s feature but today will be Honeysuckle’s final appearance in the Gloucestershire countryside.
The pair try their luck in the Mares’ Hurdle. Opposition is tough but what a fairytale it could be.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk