LAST Friday night, Hereford Racecourse hosted its inaugural Cheltenham Festival Preview Evening and those that attended were not left disappointed.

A total of 100 guests were privileged to listen to champion trainer Paul Nicholls and champion jockey Richard Johnson lead the panel through the key races at Cheltenham next week.

From favourites to outsiders, opinions differed, however the five strong panel were pretty unanimous on one race in particular; the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Asked to name the winner of jump racing’s blue riband event, music to Johnson’s ears was the panel’s belief that Native River is the horse to beat.

Trained in Somerset by Colin Tizzard, Johnson has already partnered the horse to victory in this season’s Hennessy Gold Cup and Coral Welsh National and believes that the horse is his strongest chance of winning the showpiece race since riding Looks Like Trouble to Gold Cup glory in 2000.

One thing is for sure, if horse and rider are in for a shout, there will be many people at Cheltenham and watching around the country cheering them on as there are fewer more popular combinations in racing than Tizzard and Johnson.

Before Cheltenham begins next week, Hereford stages its richest ever raceday on Saturday, March 11 – Ladies Day, with over £80,000 prize money on offer.

Ladies are encouraged to dress in their finery for the best dressed competition with first prize being weekend use of a MINI convertible courtesy of Cotswold MINI Hereford and a night’s dinner, bed and breakfast stay at the boutique Verzon House Hotel.

Saturday also sees the England v Scotland Six nations game and we will be showing that in the Paddock Bar from the time of kick off.

Our Six Nations package of a ticket, racecard, pie and pint all for just £25 is proving very popular as is our Ladies Day Prosecco Package, which includes two tickets and a bottle of fizz to enjoy for £49.

Both are only available online in advance so hurry and book at before Saturday.

Our final fixture of the season is Family Fun Day on Sunday, March 26 when there is free children’s entertainment as well top quality racing.