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10 things you can expect to happen at Festival preview nights

Bookmaker Paddy Power (left) and Nicky Henderson (centre) take part in a preview for the Cheltenham Festival.

Looking ahead to Festival season ramping up, here are ten things you can expect during any Cheltenham Festival preview evening.

Cheltenham Festival preview night season is fast upon us, before you know it there’ll be a different preview every night of the week up and down the country.  

So, what can we expect from these booze-fuelled evenings where racing fans gather to talk all things Cheltenham? Here are ten things that are likely to occur during any Cheltenham Festival preview 

Effective Time Management

It’s always the same, the panel dissects the Supreme Novices to within an inch of its life, every runner analysed to death, leaving 17 minutes to talk about the rest of the Festival. 

Hedge your bets

We’ve all seen it, the cheeky racing pundit that attends 10 different preview nights and gives 10 different NAPs. Smart thinking, cover yourself, what could possibly go wrong? 

Laurina to be the ‘marmite’ horse

Every year there’s a high-profile runner that half the pub thinks is a certainty and the other half thinks is the lay of the Fest, this year we have an odds-on favourite for this title of ‘marmite horse’. Step forward… Laurina. She doesn’t have the form or substance to be anywhere near the price she is.... but she’s a superstar who works like Pegasus. You decide. 

The expert in the crowd

There’s always one. The form student amongst the little-people in the crowd that knows more than the experts on panel. He’ll be quoting speed figures, pedigrees, stride length and cadence before being asked to leave for showing up Matt Chapman on stage.

Davy Russell to attend every one of them

This is a bit of an exaggeration, but year-in, year-out, top jockey Davy Russell becomes the star of the preview night circuit, whether it’s a funny quote about a favourite that can’t possibly win, or just taking the mickey out of fellow-panellists, Russell is always good craic. Usually by the beginning of March, he’s done enough previews to put the kids through college. 
Davy Russell is a man in demand when Cheltenham Festival preview evening season rolls around.

Outrageous statements and promises

We all like a pundit to have a strong view on a race and what better way to solidify this view than with a truly outrageous statement or promise they will certainly not even consider keeping. ‘If this favourite wins, I will buy every single person in this pub a drink’, ‘If Buveur D’Air loses I will GIVE UP THE GAME’.  


If you can’t make your local Cheltenham Festival preview night, do not worry, at least 47 attendees will be live-tweeting the entire event word-for-word. 

Pat Kelly IS a training genius

The minute anyone questions Presenting Percy’s unorthodox training campaign for the Gold Cup they will be shot down with fury, with shouts of ‘Don’t question Pat Kelly, he’s a genius, he knows what he’s doing!’ Two straight Cheltenham Festival wins suggests he probably does, but don’t dare question him. 

The Triumph Hurdle – every jockey’s favourite race

Ask a jockey if they’d rather be punched in the face or ride the Triumph Hurdle winner and they’ll be nursing a bloody nose immediately. Nobody quite knows why, but the riders are usually not very keen to discuss or analyse these ‘flat rats’. 


If anyone is going to be talked about more than any horse it’s Ruby Walsh. Which horses will he ride? Will he be fit? What will he do in Paddy Power’s advert? Will you be forcibly removed if you drunkenly heckle his name because he fell off one you backed? Probably not, just a few nasty glares from the panel. 

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10 things you can expect to happen at Festival preview nights

Looking ahead to Festival season ramping up, here are ten things you can expect during any Cheltenham Festival preview evening.

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