The Bulmers Cheltenham Festival gets underway today in the corner of the Cotswolds in south-west England that is turned green for the best part of 96 hours.
For the 25,000 travelling Irish fans though they will see it branded as the Magners Festival because that is how the brand is marketed in the UK.
This is the first year in which the Clonmel based company has taken over naming rights to the Festival and of the centrepiece Cheltenham Gold Cup on Thursday.
As part of their activation, they have created a 250 ft installation on the approach to Bristol Airport, as can be seen in the image above.
Horse racing Ireland will have a strong team at the Festival promoting Irish Racing as a venue for trainers as well as racing fans.
They will host a special media briefing at 11 o’clock this morning in the Cheltenham Media Centre and will be active in providing up toi the minute information on Irish winners and contenders over the four days of the festival.
Last year Irish trained runners won 17 of the 28 races. Gordon Elliot won the trainers Title with eight winners, one more than his great rival Willie Mullins who had to settle for seven. The Irish wins wer spread across eleven different owners.
Davy Russell crowned a great week for Ireland landing the Top Jockey title as well.
Irish trained Apples Jade is favourite to win the Unibet sponsored Champion Hurdle, the feature race on day one. She will have to stop Buveur D’Air, who has won the race in each of the last two years and is bidding to achieve a hat trick of wins last achieved by Istabraq between 1998 and 2000.
Guinness are sponsors of the day’s other principal race the Guinness Arkle Trophy. The brand has been associated with the festival for the last 25 years with the Guinness Village one of the main entertainment and gathering areas for racegoers.
Each day we will cast our eye over the crystal ball at Sport for Business HQ and divine three horses that we think will give a good run for their money.
Today’s trio are Laurina in the Champion Hurdle at 3-30. She was an impressive winner at the Festival 12 months ago and has kept on improving. She can give Ruby Walsh a record fifth win in the day’s feature.
Our other two selections come in the last two races of the day with Tower Bridge for Joseph O’Brien in the 4-50 and Ballyward for the father and Son compbination of Willie and Patrick Mullins in the day’s last race at 5-30.
Join us again tomorrow when we look back on day one and at the work done by an Irish agency in promoting one of the major bookmakers for whom Cheltenham is such a key part of the business year…
Live coverage of the races can be seen throughout the four days on Virgin Media One, taking the coverage broadcast across England by ITV and featuring legendary jockey AP McCoy.
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