CHELTENHAM BOUND: The Gavin Cromwell-trained and Jonathan Moore-ridden Flooring Porter stormed to victory in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle. PHOTO: PAT HEALY RACING

Flooring Porter carrying local hopes at Cheltenham

THE roar of the crowd will be marked absent when the tape goes up at next week's four-day Cheltenham Festival. In normal times, the National Hunt extravaganza would attract daily crowds in excess of 60,000, however the 2021 meeting will instead take place in front of empty stands due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

Not that it will dampen the enthusiasm of racing followers in the UK, Ireland and further afield. Plenty of local interest is set to centre on the fortunes of Flooring Porter, owned by a four-man syndicate of Ballinasloe and Galway city businessman Ned Hogarty; former Killimordaly hurler Kerril Creaven; and Tommy and Alan Sweeney from Creagh in south Roscommon.

The six-year-old grabbed the national spotlight at Leopardstown in late December.

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