After a sensational day's racing yesterday, we quickly turn our attentions to day two of the Cheltenham Festival, and the action on Wednesday will serve up some mouth-watering clashes on and off the track, and we pick out four of the biggest news stories taking place at Prestbury Park today.
1. Samcro v The Field
One name that continued to crop up at every single festival preview night was Samcro. The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old has been likened to a God-like figure all season, but his date with destiny will take centre stage in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at 1:30pm, where he will attempt to maintain his unbeaten record.
Currently odds-on for the Wednesday curtain-raiser, this Irish star has been ante post punters' banker of the entire week, and having romped to a five-and-a-half length victory in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival, he showed that he could be the next genuine superstar of the game.
However, despite being a red-hot jolly, he will face a host of classy novice hurdlers in the 2m 5f opener, and Next Destination will be aiming to hand Willie Mullins more success after he landed a treble yesterday, while Duc Des Genievres, who was second to Samcro in the Deloitte, will add more depth to the Mullins battalion.
Black Op and Vision Des Flos will be another brace of classy performers looking to down Samcro, but following the conclusion of the Ballymore we shall know whether all the hype has been justified about Elliott's emerging star, and if he can hand his trainer his first win of the meeting.
Nicky Henderson wouldn't have slept a wink earlier in the week after it was announced Altior was suffering a bit of lameness, but the dual Festival winner has managed to shake off his slight setback, and is ready to line up in a sensational renewal of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 3:30pm.
However, last year's Arkle winner will face a dual-pronged attack from the Mullins operation with both Douvan and Min looking to inflict Altior his first defeat in 13 races, and the Closutton pair are sure to put pressure on the Seven Barrows phenomenon.
A fine winner of the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, Altior has been favourite for the race for the last year, but in Douvan he has a rival that was a stunning performer before he flopped when hot favourite for this race 12 months ago, while Min showed when winning the Dublin Chase last month that he can also reach a top level of form.
This triumvirate are the star attractions in the Championship showpiece, and they should serve up an almighty spectacle in front of the packed grandstands at GL50, and only the best will come out victorious.
Last year's Pertemps Final hero Presenting Percy will attempt to land back-to-back festival wins in the second race of the day, and his most likely adversary will come in the shape of Monalee, who goes for glory in the RSA Chase at 2:10pm.
Second to Gold Cup hope Our Duke in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last month, Presenting Percy had previously shone over hurdles with a win, and he will relish a return to the undulations of Prestbury Park, and is unsurprisingly heading the betting.
Monalee bounced back from a fall in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown at Christmas by beating Al Boum Photo in the Flogas Novice Chase in February, and that pair will clash again, and providing Monalee's jumping stays sound then he will be a lively foe to Pat Kelly's Presenting Percy, and they should deliver an epic duel.
But, this is certainly not a two-horse race with Al Boum Photo likely to play his part, while Bryony Frost will attempt to follow Lizzie Kelly's heroics from yesterday by bagging her own Cheltenham Festival winner, and she will ride the progressive Black Corton.
4. Bookmakers v Punters
Bookmakers were saved a catastrophic first day by Apple's Jade failure to win the Mares' Hurdle yesterday, but with three winning favourites, including hot jollies Buveur D'Air and Footpad, the layers are on the back foot as we head into day two, and punters will be hoping once again that the fancied horses come to the fore on Wednesday afternoon.
One horse will define the bookmakers day, and that is the abovementioned Samcro, who will be odds-on for Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, and if the books can somehow get him beat then it would be no surprise to see them take on Altior in the Champion Chase, as they look to make amends for yesterday's losses.
With a bumper crowd set to flock to Cheltenham once again, then the betting ring will be throbbing with excitement, and come the end of play there will be only celebrating with joy, and if Samcro wins the opener, then it could be the punters.