The wait is finally over, as National Hunt fans flock to Prestbury Park for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, and the next four days shall provide some tremendous highs, and several lows, as the elite do battle over 28 electric races, and only the best shall rise to the top, so strap yourself in, and get ready for the Greatest Show on Turf!
Rain has swept into the Cotswolds in the last few weeks, and it will see day one's action start on ground that is heavy, soft in places, so those mudlarks will be relishing the test of the stamina, but class can often come to the fore at the National Hunt extravaganza, and today's racing will see some superstars take their chance.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh will attempt to win the festival curtain-raiser, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle for the fourth time in six years, and they will team up with Getabird in the Grade 1 opener at 1:30pm, but Betfair Hurdle champion Kalashnikov and Tolworth Hurdle winner Summerville Boy will be notable contenders.
We may only have five runners for the Arkle Challenge Trophy at 2:10pm, but what a quintet we have lining up as Footpad aims to down the likes of Petit Mouchoir and Saint Calvados, while at 2:50pm the race before the Champion Hurdle sees a whole host of classy handicappers line up in the Ultima Handicap Chase, as Singlefarmpayment looks to go one better than last year, and is one of the prominent figures in the betting.
Buveur D'Air was a stunning winner of the Champion Hurdle 12 months ago, and the Nicky Henderson-trained star will be a hot favourite for the Championship renewal at 3:30pm, but he will have to down former champion Faugheen, who is looking to return in fine style, with Wicklow Brave just another notable contender for the Mullins stable.
Apple's Jade is another of Tuesday's short jollies, and Gordon Elliott's starlet will be aiming to retain her crown at 4:10pm, while the four-mile National Hunt Chase at 4:50pm is sure to see only the toughest prevail over the energy-sapping trip in rain-softened ground, and the finale sees the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase conclude the day at 5:30pm, and that will be one of the toughest betting conundrums of the day.