AT this time of year, any big Saturday race meeting is full of clues for the Cheltenham Festival, now just a month away.

Last Saturday’s card at Newbury was of particular significance to Chepstow, with two of the biggest equine stars to have run at our course in recent years making a belated seasonal return. Both Altior and Native River passed their tests with flying colours and will next be seen in action on the biggest stage of all at Cheltenham.

Altior is the highest rated jump horse in training. While being prepared for the current season he developed a slight wind problem and had a minor breathing operation, so Saturday’s race was a very late start to the new season.

To the huge relief of his trainer Nicky Henderson, the horse put in a fantastic performance to beat the in-form and race fit Politologue.

If Altior is the jumping equivalent of a sprinter, last year’s Coral Welsh Grand National winner Native River is more of a marathon runner. He had been off the track for 320 days.

This year trainer Colin Tizzard has waited till February for Native River’s first outing and he was a really good winner of the small field Denman Chase again.

We have the most fantastic line up for this year’s Cheltenham Festival Preview evening in our Silks Restaurant on Friday 2nd March. Native River’s rider and Chepstow Racecourse ambassador Richard Johnson is joined on our panel of experts by top jockey Noel Fehily, champion trainer Paul Nicholls and legendary jockey John Francome. The event is sponsored by bookmakers 188BET and the ticket price of £25 includes a one course meal and a donation to Velindre in memory of friend of the racecourse Roger Lewis.

We’re also offering a Cheltenham Gold Cup lunch on Friday 16th March. There will be a bar and betting facilities, a tipster and a sweepstake. This is always a popular event and tickets are available at £37.50.

Chepstow’s next meeting is Winter Ladies Day on Saturday 24th February.