HORSERACING’S leading lights descended on Cartmel Racecourse for an evening of tips for the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place next week.

Among the panellists were Ferdy Murphy, renowned as one of the top trainers in the North, Cartmel-based trainer Jimmy Moffatt, rising superstar in the saddle Harry Haynes and form expert Marten Julian.

They gave their top tips for the Festival, with Ferdy Murphy going for his own Divers for the Byrne Group Plate at 4.00 on Thursday, having booked champion jockey A P McCoy.

Marten Julian said his bet of the week was Sadlers Risk, running in the Triumph Hurdle at 1.30 on Friday, calling him one of the toughest horses he had ever seen.

For Harry Haynes, it was all about Sivola Di Sivola in the Pertemps Final at 2.05 on Thursday, while Jimmy Moffatt plumped for crowd-pleaser Kauto Star in the Gold Cup at 3.20 on Friday should he be fit for the race.

A horse-racing game was also handed out to the 100 attendees, which included a £25 free bet with Totesport for 10 lucky winners.

Mark Russell, a horseracing punter who lives in Kendal, said he had been to the event since its inception five years ago.

“It’s a very enjoyable evening but it also provides a great insight. When Ferdy Murphy says his horses are going to run well you know they’re going to and he always has a winner at the Festival.”

Lord and Lady Cavendish also went to the event, which two years ago saw Mr Moffatt correctly predicting that his 33/1 shot Chief Dan George winning the William Hill Handicap Chase.

Online gambling company Betfred also provided the latest odds for interested punters.

Mr Moffatt said: “I think it brings a lot of locals together who are really enthusiastic about racing and it gets better every year.”

Jonathan Garrett, managing director, added: “It’s a fun evening to do before we get really excited about the proper racing at Cartmel in the summer!”