Stable Talk with Gloucestershire trainer Martin Keighley in the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival
Only four days until the Greatest Show on Turf – the Cheltenham Festival – or, as my two young sons tell me, "just four sleeps"!
It's very exciting and also nerve-racking in equal measures and undoubtedly sleepless nights for me from now on.
It really is the best four days of the year and none of us can wait for that roar of the crowd as the tapes go up for the first race on Tuesday.
Everyone is focusing on next week and Cheltenham is jump racing's annual Olympics.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
To have a winner there is maybe the closest feeling that we get to winning a gold medal at the actual Olympics.
Cheltenham has always been my local track since I came down to work for David Nicholson as a 16-year-old and latterly for Nigel Twiston-Davies.
It remains my local track as I now train a few minutes from David Nicholson's old Condicote yard.
After I stopped race-riding I spent time working as part of the groundstaff team at Cheltenham, so I know the place quite well!
Add to that the fact my wife Belinda rode out for David Nicholson as a schoolgirl and, before having our two children, she was secretary to Peter McNeile, director of sponsorship at the course, and you can see why a Cheltenham Festival winner means even more than most to both of us.
I am well aware that it took David Nicholson 17 years to train his first Festival winner.
Cheltenham has been kind to us so far and we've already had six winners at the track since we've been training, which includes most of their meetings, but this would be the pinnacle.
For a yard as small as ours to have five horses hopefully going is an absolute thrill and most have each-way chances too.
Our stable star is Champion Court and he will be partnered by Jason Maguire for the first time at Cheltenham and I think his riding style will really suit Champ.
He runs in the Ryanair Chase on the Thursday and, to my delight, has been tipped by quite a few professionals at the various preview meetings so far and I hope they are right.
He loves Cheltenham and seems in great form.
Jason came in to work him earlier in the week and will give him a school over fences on Monday so that he gets a feel of him before the race.
He is undoubtedly our biggest chance of a Festival winner and is a horse I absolutely think the world of.
His owner Mark Boothright sadly lost his mother to cancer earlier this week so we hope Champ can give his family something to cheer on and run a big race in memory of his mother.
Any Currency, our Grand National hope, runs on day one in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Handicap Chase and is partnered by our stable jockey Ian Popham.
Ian has had a horrid time with injuries over the past 18 months having broken his pelvis twice and only returned to the track at the beginning of January.
Hard work and determination has paid off and he is riding stronger and with more confidence than ever.
His first Cheltenham winner would be thoroughly deserved but also an emotional moment for him and all that have helped him battle back from injury twice.
His other rides for me include Johnny Og, who was his winning comeback ride at Catterick ten weeks ago and runs in the Weatherbys Champion BumperChampion Bumper on Wednesday.
Ian then rides Seymour Eric for me on Thursday in the Pertemps Final. Seymour Eric has won all four races since he joined us in the autumn, the last two with Ian on board.
He's gone up 50lb in the handicap but he's flying at home so I'm not ruling him out of surprising us again.
He deserves his place in the line-up but after such a wonderful season anything else now is a bonus because he owes us nothing.
On the final day Havingotascoobydo may run in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle with Ian on board.
He's had more problems than any horse in the yard this season so a last minute decision will be made on him to make sure he's 100 per cent right, but he looks to be going the right way.
Before the Festival I hope to have a few runners over the weekend.
I hope to run Merlin's Wish and Mauricetheathlete at Chepstow tomorrow.
Merlin is making his debut for me and has already won a point-to-point for owner Rosemary Toppin and will hopefully run well in the BetVictor Exclusive Grand National Antepost Offer Novices' Chase.
Maurice loves Chepstow and so we hope for a bold bid from him in the BetVictor Non Runner Free Bet At Aintree Handicap Hurdle.
On Sunday, Faultless Feelings and The Fox's Decree may both run at Market Rasen and Typhon De Guye is hoping to beat the ballot at Warwick as his owners The Daydream Believers and I have planned that race for him and have taken a box at the fixture, so it will be disappointing if he doesn't get in.