WHAT a feast lies ahead next week as the Cheltenham Festival gives National Hunt racing its annual three-day treat. Plans are in train to make it four days, too.

Tuesday's entries for us are Bobby Grant (Peter Beaumont) and Historg (Ferdy Murphy) in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase. Bobby Grant was seen out on Saturday at his favourite Haydock, but he did not shine as at his last visit. However, his trainer did have a winner there when Hunters Tweed took the novice chase.

Historg would be better value and the Murphy-Russell team, which has had a quietish time lately, took the Carlisle bumper at Sunday's extra meeting.

Later on Tuesday, the West Witton handler has the promising Tribal Venture entered in the Pertemps Final, a handicap hurdle over just more than three miles, but he is also in Wednesday's Royal & Sun Alliance Novice Hurdle over 2m 5f.

Brian Ellison has Fatehalkhair entered in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir on Tuesday and Noel Wilson is listed to ride.

Wednesday sees Ellison's Latalomne, one of our Fifteen to Follow, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase against some fearsome opposition.

Mary Reveley has entered two - Whistling Dixie and Loop The Loup - in the Coral Eurobet Cup, a handicap hurdle. Her stable has had an uncharacteristically quiet time of late, though, and better value may come from Declan Carroll's Benbyas.

The Mildmay of Flete sees entries from Ballinclay King (Ferdy Murphy) and Europa (Tom Tate), the latter an easy winner on Saturday at Doncaster. Tate said he would only run if the ground is good.

Thursday is Gold Cup day and we are represented in the big one by Hussard Collonges, Peter Beaumont's stable star (FtF) and Ferdy Murphy's Truckers Tavern. Your columnist would like to see them come home one-two for us, but it is a big ask with the Irish contingent.

Brian Ellison has Transit in the Triumph Hurdle earlier, but may find opposition from Alan Swinbank's star, Far Pavilions, an easy winner of the Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.

The trainer said he might go for the Triumph, or a hurdle for four-year-olds at Aintree, depending on the ground. The first runner owner David Abell had at Cheltenham was Star Rage, winner of the County Hurdle.

Later, the Christie's Foxhunter, the amateurs' "Gold Cup", won so stunningly last year by Fiona Needham, sees her try again on Last Option, trained by her father Robin Tate.

Grant Tuer has Backsheesh entered and this we remember from some fine point-to-point runs last year. Again, the one-two would make our day.

Highlights of a good week's racing included a fifth win in a row by Howard Johnson's Covent Garden (FtF) in a valuable Grade 2 event at Kelso. The in-form trainer went on to win again at Carlisle next day.

There was a first treble for amateur Gino Carenza at Catterick on Wednesday, two for Mick Easterby and one in the hunter chase on Ridgeway, sold by Easterby to Jo Foster from near Ilkley.

Inch Perfect made his chase debut a winning one and will return to the Flat at Doncaster at the start of the season in a fortnight.

Richard Guest continued his fantastic training start and, by the time we went to press, had eight winners from his 24 runners, including Sabi Sand at Catterick and a Doncaster double.

And a little footnote for all those who remember Jeremy Moon, a solicitor who used to live at Thrintoft.

He was spotted at Carlisle by Racing Week leading up Bold Navigator, a horse bred, owned and trained by his neighbour, Andrew Crow, near Kelso.

Their charge duly hacked up at long odds and Crow told us that it had been an eventer and hunter before going racing.

We have long held that the thoroughbred is a more versatile animal than many in racing believe!


Thursday last week. - Southwell AW: Paradise Eve (trained by David Barron, at Maunby; owned by Minskip Merlin Partnership), ridden by Dean McKeown; Quiet Times (Kevin Ryan, Hambleton; Yorkshire Racing Club & Francis Moll), Robert Winston; Mr Pertemps (Richard Fahey, Butterwick; Monohydrate Developments), Paul Hanagan.

Friday. - Doncaster: Night Fighter (Richard Guest, Brancepeth; N B Mason), Mr Larry McGrath (claiming 5lbs allowance); Ulusaba (R Guest; Hb, N B Mason), Kenny Johnson.

Saturday. - Doncaster: Europa (Tom Tate, Tadcaster; B T Stewart-Brown), Jason Maguire; Property Zone (Chris Grant, Wolviston; Mrs A Meller), Richard McGrath; Tom Fruit (Tim Easterby, Great Habton; David & Steven Dudley), P J Brennan (3).

Haydock: Far Pavilions (Alan Swinbank, Melsonby; J David Abell), Jim Crowley; Hunters Tweed (Peter Beaumont, Brandsby; Trevor Hemmings), Russ Garritty.

Kelso: Covent Garden (FtF) (Howard Johnson, Crook; Ada Partnership), Graham Lee; Hazel Reilly (Sarah Dent, Billingham; John Mackley), Mr Lee Bates.

Sunday. - Carlisle: Our Armageddon (R Guest; N B Mason), R Guest; Grattan Lodge (H Johnson; W M G Black), Graham Lee; Riothamus (Ferdy Murphy, West Witton; Rp Racing), Davy Russell.

Monday. - Market Rasen: Deep Water (Micky Hammond, Middleham; The County Set), Richard Johnson.

Tuesday. - No DST area winners at Exeter, Leicester or Lingfield AW.

Wednesday. - Catterick: Sabi Sand (R Guest; Hb, N B Mason), R Guest; Middlethorpe (Mick Easterby, Sheriff Hutton; J H Quckfall & A G Black), Mr Gino Carenza (5); Inch Perfect (Richard Fahey; J J Staunton), Padge Whelan (3); Ridgeway (Jo Foster, Ilkley; Stuart Hardy), Mr G Carenza (3); Gary's Pimpernel (M Easterby; trainer), Mr G Carenza (5).

Lingfield AW: Roman Empire (Tim Etherington, Norton; Yorkshire Racing Club & Brian Freer), Joe Fanning