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A Cheltenham Festival run on heavy going will test horses and punters

The centrepiece meeting of the season always delivers a few surprises, but backers have had things fairly easy in recent years

So much has changed at the Cheltenham Festival in recent decades as it has grown to become one of the essential fixtures in the British sporting calendar that a racegoer from half a century ago would scarcely recognise it.

There are new grandstands, new races, a fourth day, many acres of hospitality tents and even an entirely new course in the middle of the track. And while some of the names of today’s trainers would be familiar, the sheer scale of their operations would not. Paddy Mullins, Dawn Run’s trainer, had 15 horses in his entire string in the mid-1960s – about half the number that his son Willie will put on a boat to the Festival this week.

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