Racing enjoys the brilliant excitement of Cheltenham week

Magic of the Cheltenham Gold Cup - PHOTO mandatory by-line: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle - Photo Agency 

Magic of the Cheltenham Gold Cup - PHOTO mandatory by-line: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle - Photo Agency - Credit: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

The Cheltenham Festival has finally arrived.  
Last year was mired in controversy because it was taking place at the outset of the predicted Pandemic amidst many calls for it to be cancelled.  
This year, with those predictions being fulfilled, it will take place in front of empty stands but even though the bars will be missing the human invasion, the equine invasion is still an earnest one, with many of the biggest prizes expected to go to those from the Emerald Isle. 
Three times Festival winning jockey, Jimmy Frost, believes it will be a very strange experience for the riders.   
"The Cheltenham crowd are famous for their roar,” he said. “I remember the noise when winning the Champion Hurdle was deafening. That was partially because Morley Street was favorite and many of the punters had backed him, but, as a jockey, you are aware of the anticipation in the crowd as soon as you approach the final two fences.” 
Daughter Bryony has experienced that roar before when winning on Frodon in the Ryan Air Chase in 2019. This year the pair will compete for the Blue Riband event - The Cheltenham Gold Cup.  
If successful, Bryony would become the first lady rider to secure Cheltenham's biggest prize. She has been a regular supporter of Cheltenham Festival preview nights in Devon over the last two years and is a great ambassador for Devon Communities Together, who regularly feature on our pages with all the great work they do in the county's villages, especially recently in the pandemic.  
Let us hope this year we can celebrate retrospectively with Bryony at a Cheltenham Festival review, rather than a preview night in the months ahead.  
Pat Masterton Chief Executive of the very popular Newton Abbot track is watching the loosening of lockdown restrictions very closely.  
Sadly, the season’s traditional curtain raiser on Easter Saturday will be playing to empty crowds but racing is making plans to have crowds in by June and hopefully the vast majority of Pat's summer fixtures can take place in the normal, convivial fun mood that is such a feature of the track.