Inexorably, inevitably, the Cheltenham Festival is swinging into view. The rest of the Jumps season, which now resembles one, long dress-rehearsal, one, long schooling session, has hit the home straight and the winning post of mid-March is on the horizon.
The next seven weeks or so will seem like forever as we count down, one by one, those dreary, soulless working days. But deep down, we know it will be worth it. We know the Prestbury Park spectacular will not let us down. There are actually six major Saturday racedays still to come, at Ascot, Cheltenham itself, Sandown, Newbury and Kempton, not to mention the small matter of the first two-day Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in early February. After that, it will merely be a question of negotiating the litany of preview evenings and we are there. To help pass the time, here is a collection of 25 horses to have caught my eye so far this season. Some obvious, some not, but all more than good enough to tread that wondrous road to Cheltenham.