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Horse Racing

Our man Sam Twiston-Davies looks ahead to the Cheltenham Festival and picks out one horse he’d love to ride

THREE days to go, and we’re all getting like kids waiting for Christmas Day now.

This year it’s been worse just waiting for Cheltenham to start, because of all the days off we’ve had with the weather.

Usually you’re waylaid by riding in the meetings leading up to it. This time it’s weird, with all the rain playing havoc – just as it has again today.

I was looking forward to riding Sir Valentine in Sandown’s Imperial Cup. As it is, I’m on Butter Hill Boris in a maiden hurdle at Hereford.

He’s a three-mile point-to-pointer who has been schooling okay at home, and this looks like a nice enough place to start, because it’s such a fair track.

But it’s also safe to say it’s not the greatest ride I’ve ever had.

The Festival is all anyone’s talking about now, though, and for us jockeys it’s like waiting for the cup final.

Obviously you don’t let it affect your riding. I always say, the ambulance follows you round every day of the week, not just in the big races.

But you do get a little more tense, the closer it gets. These are the races everyone wants to win, which makes them the hardest to actually do so.

The good thing is I can stay at home as well during the Festival.

I only live down the road, so I don’t need to be worrying about hotels.

I’ll usually get there about 11ish, certainly I will on Tuesday and Wednesday because I’ve got rides in the first, and then keep things as normal as possible.

I don’t have any superstitions beyond the usual one most of us have, making sure anything new is dumped on the floor and trodden on before we use it. Don’t ask why!

There will still be a few jokes going around the weighing room, but because it’s Cheltenham it’s a bit quieter than usual. Everyone’s focused.

I’ve got some great memories of the Festival already. Winning the Foxhunters on Baby Run, after I’d been second on him the year before, was a great day.

And Dodging Bullets in the Champion Chase in 2015 was fantastic.

I’ve had seven winners there, but none since Solar Impulse won the Grand Annual four years ago. It would be nice to add another one or two this week.

I’ll give you the lowdown on my rides each day next week, but if there’s one I could pick it would have to be Altior.

It’s not often you see a two-miler who races so lazily but responds so well. He must be a dream to ride.