Day two of the Festival kicks off and a daunting and formidable task awaits the National Hunt Steeple Chase contenders, as novice chasers of five years or older are partnered by amateur jockeys on the opening race on Wednesday.
The opener is a race that has seen Jonjo O’Neil record some of his most impressive Cheltenham results and he has landed the race four times in the last ten years. It will be interesting to see who he saddles in this year’s renewal and whoever it is will need bags of stamina for this.
That is followed by the Neputne Investment Hurdle, formerly known as the Ballymore Novices Hurdle. It is for hurdlers aged four or above who have bags of staying potential.
Two mile five furlongs long, the race is often used as a stepping stone to World Hurdle or chasing success in years to come and it often goes the way of a less fancied horse with bags of potential.
Expect the winner to enter the winner’s enclosure with next year's World Hurdle on his mind.
The third race of the day is highly competitive Royal Sun Alliance Chase, a Grade One showpiece that is used to put former hurdling superstars firmly on the chasing map.
Run over a trip of three miles, the race has been responsible for some top quality winners, none more so than Denman in 2007.
The feature race of the second day at the Cheltenham Festival is the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the race determines who the best chaser in the two mile division is.
A small and select field often goes to post but the field is high class and recent winners include Master Minded, Big Zeb and Sizing Europe.
The Champion Chase if followed by a highly competitive handicap race that sees a large field go to post and the Coral Cup is one of the most difficult festival puzzles to solve.
Raced over 2 miles 5 furlongs, the pace is frantic and with so many runners battling it out, it is difficult to envisage anything other than a thrilling race in store.
A poor race for trends, it is the sort of contest that sees form go out of the window.
Meanwhile, the Fred Winter is a handicap for juveniles aged four years and above and it is often used for inexperienced hurdlers with a limited amount of knowledge of jumping obstacles.
Over twenty runners almost always go to post and with so little separating one runner from another, it often pays to follow the direction of the market.
The final race of the day is essentially just a flat race but with National Hunt racing rules in place and the Champion Bumper is contested over a distance over two miles.
The Champion Bumper often represents a trial for the following year’s Supreme Novices’ hurdle and the winner here will no doubt enter 2013 festival antepost markets at a short price.
Wednesday 11th March - Ladies Day
1.30 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (2m 5f)
2.05 RSA Steeple Chase (3m 1/2f)
2.40 Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle) (2m 5f)
3.20 BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (2m)
4.00 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3m 7f)
4.40 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2m 1/2f)
5.15 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2m 1/2f)