The UK's jump racing premier event - the Cheltenham Festival -- is ready for lift-off from Tuesday, with plenty of nail-biting last-second-noses-ahead action expected, even if a cloud might be hanging over the four-day event.
Philip Fenton and his Tipperary-based team will be under the spotlight, with plenty of the racing fraternity feeling Fenton and co. should not have been allowed to compete at the Cheltenham festival owing to the fact that the trainer was charged for possessing anabolic steroids and other banned substances with a court hearing scheduled in a little while.
However, after some judicious drug testing, the British Horseracing Authority took the decision to let Fenton run his horses, even if questions will undoubtedly be raised if one of his wards - Dunguib and Value At Risk, who are scheduled to run on Wednesday in the Coral Cup and Champion Bumper and Last Installment in Friday's Gold Cup - win a race.
The Stan James Champions Hurdle will headline opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, with six other races also scheduled to take place, with the first race - the Supreme Novices' Hurdle - starting at 1.30 pm GMT.
Hurricane Fly will look to defend his Stan James Champions Hurdle title, with jockey Ruby Walsh confident his horse can complete a treble of wins. "I rode Hurricane Fly and he seems to be in good form," Walsh was quoted as saying by the Cheltenham Festival's official website. "He has obviously travelled over a good few times, so he knows what it is and you would be more worried about one of the younger horses that haven't travelled before.
"We are happy with him and have got him this far, so fingers crossed we can get him the rest of the way. The Champion Hurdle line-up is what it is - it was never going to be any different.
"He has been here and done it twice before and if we are being clinical about it, the others have got something to prove in a Champion Hurdle, whereas he hasn't. It looks as if Captain Cee Bee will make the running, but there could be a curve-ball or two."
Jockey Jason Maguire, however, will not feature in any of those races after he was ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival following a fall at Stratford on Monday. Maguire suffered a fractured sternum and bleeding in his liver after being unseated, and then kicked in the stomach by another horse, while riding John Quinn-schooled Scots Gaelic.
"He has fractured his sternum and he's got bleeding on his liver," close friend of Maguire Niall Hannity said. "He's definitely out of Cheltenham and his wife, Lauren, is with him."
Maguire was set to ride three horses on opening day - Un Ace in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Muldoon's Picnic in the Baylis and Harding Handicap Chase and Doyly Carte in the Mares' Hurdle.
Where to Watch Live
The Cheltenham Festival opening day is scheduled for a 1.30 pm GMT (7 pm IST, 8.30 am ET) start with live coverage on Channel 4. The broadcaster will begin their coverage from the morning and viewers in the UK can catch the action via live streaming online HERE or HERE. Racing UK is also an option to catch the action live online with the option to live stream HERE.
The racing will also be shown on BetFred TV at their stations, while the YouTube page with all the previews can be viewed HERE. The Cheltenham TV link is available HERE, with the radio link HERE (viewers can listen to the action online within five miles of the race course). Viewers can listen to the action via radio courtesy BBC Radio 5 Live HERE.