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Cheltenham 2017: We are bang on course for a glorious week of racing, reveals clerk Claisse

By Keith Hamer

Clerk of the course Simon Claisse reports the outlook for Cheltenham to be "glorious" as he eagerly anticipates the four-day Festival that starts today.

"We had a good day on Sunday with visits from Nicky Henderson, Alan King, Jonjo O'Neill and Ben Pauling," said Claisse.

"All happy with and complimentary about the track, and agreeing with the going description of good to soft on the chase and hurdle courses, Old and New, and good to soft, good in places on the cross country course.

"We're in good shape. I can't recall the place looking as 'forward' as it does - you can tell in the town, the daffodils are out. Preparations have gone well and I can't wait for it to start.

"It was nice to see 60-70 horses out this morning - Noel Meade's string, Gordon Elliott's, Willie Mullins', among others."

Mullins and his stable jockey Ruby Walsh are the combination bookmakers fear today with Melon in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Limini in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle being backed in doubles.

Ladbrokes estimate the 10-1 brace will quite likely leave them facing a pay-out in excess of £3million.

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: "Walsh and Mullins are the ultimate Cheltenham dream team.

"The Irishmen have the ability to make or break our week.

"The last couple of years have left us facing up to record-breaking Ruby Tuesdays, but Melon and Limini could combine to heap further misery on us."

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