Editor's Viewpoint: And they're off ...
The Cheltenham national hunt festival which begins today is not just another horse racing meeting.
It is where the cream of jumps horses compete against each other to see which will be crowned champions. Man and beast join in perfect harmony to provide one of the most thrilling sporting spectacles of the year.
Although set in the Cotswolds, the Cheltenham course will become a little bit of Ireland for the duration as thousands of racing fans from this side of the Irish Sea have a tilt at their age-old enemies, the bookmakers. And today they will be hoping that a Northern Ireland-owned horse, Hurricane Fly, one of the week's hot tips, will carry off the Champion Hurdle crown. If it does there will be some party.