March is here and for pretty much the whole racing fraternity, it is the most exciting month of the whole year.
The Cheltenham Festival, the four day jumping showpiece, takes place from Tuesday 10th March through until Friday 13th March, and is an annual pilgrimage for a large number of racegoers from both sides of the Irish Sea.
Cheltenham has a huge place within racing and always attracts big crowds to all four days of the meeting, with a big race highlight to look forward to on each day.
Tuesday is Champion Hurdle day, a day that is deeply embedded in racing folklore and has produced many a great such as Istabraq, Sea Pigeon and the brilliant Hurricane Fly who will be back at Cheltenham trying to win the race for the third time this year.
Wednesday is Queen Mother Champion Chase day, a two mile fast and furious race which features Sprinter Sacre, who is rated the third best horse of the modern era by Timeform but has had time on the sidelines with a defibrillating heart and Sire De Grugy the current champion.
Thursday is World Hurdle day, a race dominated in recent times by Big Buck’s, who won the race for four consecutive years from 2009 through until 2012. Friday is arguably the biggest of them all, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup topping the bill.
The three and a quarter mile showpiece encapsulates a strong stamina test with the infamous Cheltenham hill being the scene of many a battle over the years, with Denman vs Kauto Star a standout in the last few years.
Whilst the jumps fans are salivating with the prospect of the big end of season Festivals, the Flat racing scene is certainly not forgotten either, with the start of the Flat turf season on the grass at the end of the month with the traditional curtain-raiser, the Lincoln at Doncaster.
The All-Weather championships campaign is also nearing its crescendo with the Finals Day at Lingfield Park fast approaching on April 3rd, only eight days before the Grand National at Aintree.
So in the next six weeks, there will be a lot of reputations shattered, plenty of dreams tattered but a few very bright new stars shining over both codes.
Southwell has the best of both worlds with their “Cheltenham Double Headers” on both the 10th and 11th March, where they will be staging two all-weather Flat meetings, whilst showing all of the Cheltenham Festival on the many screens around the course.
On top of that, if you have a valid 2015 Cheltenham Festival ticket, you can come to Southwell for either of the two racedays in “Festival week” free of charge.
Southwell host ten meetings in all during March, three jumps and seven flat meetings. One of those jumps meetings may also feature AP McCoy prior to his retirement at the end of the season.
For more information on the upcoming meetings at Southwell, either call 01636 814481 or visit www.southwell-racecourse.co.uk.