Cheltenham Festival Preview 2024 

Estimated read time 41 min read

Cheltenham Festival – Tuesday

Supreme Novices Hurdle – The question on everybody’s lips is where does BALLYBURN run. In my opinion I do think he will end up running in the Supreme, that being said he wins wherever he goes purely because he is so far ahead of all the novices this season. I was blown away with his performance in the Dublin Racing Festival where he made SLADE STEEL look relatively average. The speed this lad possesses is exceptional and put up numbers that were in a conversation with STATE MAN.

He wins this with ease, the Baring Bingham is a much more trappier race and I believe he will have an easier race coming here. He has produced an RPR of 158 which puts him miles ahead of TULLYHILL and his best RPR of 145. He is just a different class to these lot here. Hopefully he turns up here as I am sat on some healthy slips at 8s and 7s. Could well be my NAP of the week… one I do like at a bigger price who could make the frame is FIREFOX.

Gordon Elliot has spoken about this lad with a shine in his eyes and is clearly held in high regard at home. He has finished ahead of BALLYBURN before and in fairness that day, put him in his place comfortably. Since then obviously BALLYBURN has surpassed FIREFOX in terms of ability and success. But if we all agree that BALLYBURN is way ahead of the others, this lad must be forgiven his run in the Lawlors Of Naas as he was reported lame after the race and perhaps wasn’t up for it at all.

A nice break from action and time to get him revved up for this could spark further improvement and potentially see him go very close here, Gordon has made it clear this is the target.

Selection – BALLYBURN 13/8 & FIREFOX 9/1 E/W

My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices Chase

All season long, MARINE NATIONALE has looked to be the strongest candidate within the 2M novice division and has held favouritism all season for this years Arkle. After bombing out in the Irish Arkle finishing 5th out of 6, he still remains the favourite here. Can I forgive him his last run? It is really tricky to gage if Barry Connell has the ability to bring horses back from dire performances, with no disrespect he is no Nicky Henderson or Willie Mullins.

It remains unknown what Barry can do to get this horse back on track. We all know how bullish he was all season long last year leading up to the Supreme and look how that ended. Mikey O’Sullivan has spoken in positivity regarding his chances and obviously that does draw you back on side. After the race Barry had said there are no apparent issues with him and came out of the race well, but off the back of his last run, it looked like he may have issues with his wind which if that is the case, he would have no chance of winning here. It is a huge risk stick with MARINE NATIONALE.

I think this field is fairly well matched on ability and there will be other factors that will determine the outcome of this race with the ground coming to the fore, I do also believe it is important to look at some of the trends that capture what it takes to win an Arkle, including the course experience been key, experience of going over the sticks as the last 12 winners have had 2 starts over fences, but the main one being that the last 12 winners of the Arkle had won on their last start, which breaks the field down to only a few candidates but one I love.

JPR ONE 10/1 E/W looks a very solid play here. He doesn’t have much to find in terms of his best RPR meeting like the likes of MARINE NATIONALE and IL ETAIT TEMPS. He suits the mould of what it takes to be an Arkle winner, now IL ETAIT TEMPS is a fantastic horse but is really underwhelming around here and produces his best form in Ireland. MARINE NATIONALE is a winner at the course but 5/2 with the question marks around him seems silly in fairness especially taking into consideration that he isn’t the most versatile on soft ground and does his best running on a better going. QUILIXIOS fits the glove perfectly, he is a triumph hurdle winner, ground versatile and did indeed win on his last start in very impressive fashion but has a lot to improve on with his last outing resulting in a 143 RPR compared to JPR ONE recording a 155.

Joe Tizzard’s runner looked home and dry until coming down at the last in the Arkle Trial at Cheltenham after being hard held and 3 lengths clear so we know he goes well around Prestbury Park. With doubts and questions around several horses in the field, I think this lad is rock solid and you know what you’re going to get from him, he is always consistent and still looks like he has scope for improvement. 

I do also think that if MARINE NATIONALE turns up here tuned up, he is certainly the best horse in the race and cannot be ruled out. We know what he can do and we saw what he did around here last year, I did think this lad would be the Arkle Winner at the start of the season and after his debut over the sticks, people were rowing into backing him in shades of odds on and below.

I am quite forgiving and do believe this lad has raw talent and being Barry Connells stable star, he will have put his absolute all into getting him bang on song for this, at 5/2 you cannot let last years supreme winner go off at that price after one bad run, which looked too bad to be true, so I will play this race with 2 selections.

Selections – MARINE NATIONALE 5/2 & JPR ONE 10/1 EW

Ultima Handicap Chase

The Ultima Handicap Chase, a graveyard for favourites with only 2 winning in the last 12 renewals and one of them was last years winner CORACH RAMBLER who is a contender for this years Gold Cup, he does have an entry in this but off the 12st top weight, I’d sadly give him no hope here. The stats do help in finding winners in this race and I think the most pivotal one is that 10 of the last 12 winners have being aged 7 & 9. I do really like CREBILLY but I think he will end up running in the plate in which he has received plenty of support in the market over the last few days.

I do have a few I like in this so I will advise 2 selections and maybe play my final one on the day as it’s likely that 8 places may be on offer with certain bookmakers. My first selection here is GIOVINCO 16/1 EW. I think off the back of his performance where he travelled all over STAY AWAY FAY and ultimately just got out stayed and possibly out classed in the end you would have thought he could have a live chance of running a belting race in the Browns Advisory Novices Chase however, after the run on the next day it left a lot of people writing this lad off. He was not himself at all and never looked to have a chance, resulting in him pulling up and writing off his chances in the RSA. He then returned with a strong performance over 2m4f and never really came out of 2nd gear there, but for me staying is his strongest asset.

He isn’t going to be against the likes of HERMES ALLEN, IL EST FRANCAIS & STAY AWAY FAY in this, now there is a chance that as he is a novice he may not have the experience to win this but I do think he will run a blinder here, Lucinda Russell knows how to win this race as she has done it for the last 2 years with CORACH RAMBLER. 

My second selection for the Ultima is THE GOFFER 8/1 EW. This looks like a proper plot by Gordon Elliot here and he is the king of plots. Now he fits the point of that he runs well around Cheltenham and was 4th in last years renewal, he ran off a mark of 149 last year and is now down to 144 this year. He was raced last week in a race that he won but with the conditions of the race meant that his mark remained unaffected which certainly raises the eyebrows.

He has obviously being campaigned to have another crack here and looks in good to go close again this year. Sitting at 2nd fav with form figures of P4-858 screams of a stinky plot and one I am rowing in with!

Finally, my final selection is WEVEALLBEENCAUGHT 22/1 EW. Now there is every chance this lad won’t turn up here as he holds an entry for the Kim Muir but I think if he was to turn up here he would have a right chance. 3 runs here this season which have resulted in form of 326, finishing behind FLOORING PORTER & BROADWAYBOY which are both high class horses.

He runs great races around here and the 6th last time out looked too bad to be true, he went off favourite that day and had Mikey O’Sullivan over from Ireland which was his only ride. Since that race it was reported that WEVEALLBEENCAUGHT returned from the race with a fibrillating heart. He is obviously way better than his mark of 134 and could be ridiculously well handicapped. I’d hope to see Sam Twiston-Davies jocked up here for his old man and think his riding style would suit his mount should he come here. 

Champion Hurdle

Now with the news that CONSTITUTION HILL had a dirty scope on Tuesday 27th February, it has left huge questions around this race. If CONSTITUTION HILL came here in full health I believe there is no doubts he would have won this race on the dicky, that however isn’t the case. If he somehow manages to get here there is still going to be questions regarding his health and how well he is which brings in a whole new angle into this race with new potential runners. 

Now the obvious call here is STATE MAN, the ever-consistent monster from the Closutton stable. Only beaten by CONSTITUTION HILL but beaten easily, if last years winner doesn’t turn up here then STATE MAN most likeliest winner however, IRISH POINT possibly coming here is very interesting, proper horse who has gears to burn, if he can match STATE MANS cruising speeds and they’re both coming home side by side, there is no doubts IRISH POINT would come out on top. But if the machine that is CONSTITUTION HILL is to turn up here and is in good health and is showing good bits of work at home, I have no doubts that he will better STATE MAN again and become a dual winner of the Champion Hurdle.


Mares Hurdle

LOSSIE MOUTH 4/6 here is my banker of day . We have seen the form of the GRADE 2 Mares race at Doncaster not work out quite the way we anticipated it to, as GALA MARCEU bombed out the next day, leaving the form of ASHROE DIAMOND’s success in a dimmed light. The latter of the mullins pair does have success over the trip which is a huge advantage at this stage as we simply do not know if LOSSIEMOUTH will see out the trip.

My thoughts are that she will but of course it is quite difficult to say for definite. I think she just oozes class and in all fairness I think he would hold a strong account of herself in the Champion Hurdle, I cannot see ASHROE DIAMOND serving it up to Constitution Hill or State Man. She is a proven winner at Prestbury Park which as trends show, the experience around here can prove pivotal. She looks like shes filled out her size and become a much better horse, the way she won on her seasonal debut was mightily impressive as she’s beaten LOVE ENVOI on the dicky, we know that LOVE ENVOI is a proper mare and comes into her own around Cheltenham, she ran HONEYSUCKLE right to the line last year in the mares. There isn’t really too much more to say.

LOSSIEMOUTH just wins this. If you wanted an each way angle into the race, ECHOES IN RAIN 20/1 NRNB looks a cracking bet. She is always bang there and has being rocking it up with some of the best 2 milers for some time now, she ran a really good race finishing 4th last year, she will likely go off shorter on the day, if she lines up here and the books likely offering the usual 4 places on offer for this race, this ever consistent mare will be bang there coming up the hill and this race doesn’t look overly strong away from the top 3 in the market. 

Selections – LOSSIEMOUTH 4/6 & ECHOES IN RAIN 20/1 EW (NRNB)

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

I really don’t understand why LARKIN THE MORNING sits here at the top of the market. His form isn’t great and he was seen finishing behind HIGHWIND who went onto finish almost 20 lengths behind KARGESSE and the 2nd PIGEON HOUSE sits at 50/1 in the market… it doesn’t add up to me and I don’t fancy him in the slightest. It’s worth the mention that 8 of the last 12 previous winners of the Boodles have finished within the top 4 of their last race. This stat helps to break down many in the field, if you combine that with 9 of the last 12 winners have held a rating between 125 and 134 it certainly makes life easier trying to solve this puzzle. I have landed on 2 here that I’d give a chance to.

I like WODHOOH 10/1 EW for Gordon Elliott who has an excellent record in this race training 3 winners from the last 6 renewals. I think he ticks many boxes that is required to win a boodles, he looks to have transitioned well from running on the flats to jumping a hurdle, he is unbeaten since being acquired by Gordon Elliott and the form of his races is starting to stack up in a positive way. He fits the mould of nine of the last twelve winners have carried 10st-6lb and 11st-5lb, he is carrying 11st-3lb and will hopefully have Jack Kennedy on board. I think at 10/1 with 5 places on offer he should be returning place money at a minimum.

My second fancy is the Noel George trained MILAN TINO 8/1 EW. I think he is a really nice consistent type and gets into this off a relatively low weight despite having form behind SIR GINO & BURDETT ROAD. He has run a few times around the course which is a huge bonus in these juvenile races. He seems to do a lot right but coming up the hill always seems to struggle to keep up with the pace.

That being said he was against SIR GINO and BURDETT ROAD which are different class to these lot, at 8/1 EW I think he has a nice chance to go close here in a weaker race. 

Selections – WODHOOH 10/1 EW & MILAN TINO 8/1 EW

National Hunt Chase

CORBETTS CROSS has being well supported over the last week and heads the top of the market for this but I am keen to take him on. EMBASSY GARDENS 5/2 will be my first selection for this race. He has being campaigned for this race all season and each time has had punters more often than not against his chances but he seems to keep finding a way to win. He has put SANDOR CLEGANE away with ease on the last day in the end by 10 lengths but to me, the way he travels through his races would suggest he is going to relish the extra few furlongs. Patrick Mullins has confirmed that he will be jocked up on EMBASSY GARDENS. He looks the most likely winner to me.

An each way angle into the race is BROADWAY BOY 12/1 EW. He absolutely loves it around here and has only being beaten by FLOORING PORTER around here, that was right at the start of the season and in my eyes he has improved significantly since that run.

He has some good form to his name now and was last seen finishing behind GREY DAWNING, yes that day he finished no where to be seen in all fairness but I think he has had a very hard campaign and the run on the last day was a track that wouldn’t have suited his best assets. I think he could have a massive chance here if he’s just popped out front and let loose, he may not be for catching and is the type that will not give up. I don’t believe the extra few furlongs will be too much of an ask for this highly talented lad. 


Cheltenham Festival – Wednesday

Baring Bingham Novices Hurdle – We are still non the wiser as to where BALLYBURN will end up, neither do the exchanges. We simply do not know. If he turns up here, he wins it is as simple as that, just like he would win the supreme if he was to run in that race. I do really like PREDATORS GOLD 12/1 EW. He has being campaigned in a very strange way, I don’t think Willie quite recognised which distance he will be the best over as he has ran over 2M4F, 2M, 2M7F. Personally I think he ran a blinder in all 3 races, especially in the 2M where he was 2nd,  beaten by CALDWELL POTTER despite pulling all the way around, similarly in the Grade 1 at the DRF when finishing behind DANCING IN THE CITY.

Back over the 2m 4f, I think he looks set to run a cracker here at a nice price. There is the chance that BALLYBURN may run here and at 11/10 NRNB I am happy to advise that here. Same reasons as the Supreme preview, he is the best novice hurdler by a landslide. He wins wherever he goes. However if he does not run here then I believe SLADE STEEL 8/1 EW is a cracking bet.

Finishing behind BALLYBURN on his last run is standout form in this field, I believe that he is the second best novice hurdler from the 2M division this season and to me looks as if the step up in trip will aid further improvement. I will however only bet SLADE STEEL if BALLYBURN doesn’t come here.


Brown Advisory Novices Chase

FACT TO FILE 6/5 is my selection for this race. This lad looks the next big star to come through the closutton ranks and has being dubbed ‘the next GALOPIN DES CHAMPS.’ What we saw him do on the last day against GAELIC WARRIOR was super impressive.

He just looks rock solid for this and could be just way superior compared to this lot. It was a monster performance on the last day and beating a superstar like GAELIC WARRIOR the way he did is standout form here. I don’t think there is too much more to say, he should just win this.

Selection – FACT TO FILE 6/5

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

This is a tough puzzle to solve. SA MAJESTE beating NOBLE YEATS as comfortable as he is would open up avenues that could lead this lad to be very well handicapped and could be another star for Mullins, however at 6/1 and only 1 fav winning this in the last 10 years, I am keen to take him on with 2 selections here. FIRST STREET 25/1 EW is a nice bet and I think on his best days is a very good hurdler.

He was seen finishing a length behind STATE MAN 2 years ago in the county hurdle and was giving him weight that day too. We know he can put in a good shift around here and he does fit the mould of what it takes to have the winner in this contest, nine of the last 12 winners were priced 12/1 or bigger, nine of the twelve winners were rated 140 or higher, this displays that a classier horse usually goes well around here and one that usually has some good experience under their belt.

I think if he is on song he could run a belting race here at a nice price. MIGHT I 16/1 E/W is my second fancy here. I love the fact he is reverting back to hurdles as I don’t think he has being the same horse in his chasing career. He is a very good horse who has had form behind some top horses when hurdling such as JONBON, CONSTITUTION HILL, THREE STRIPE LIFE, and he ran a cracker around here last year in the Martin Pipe when beaten just 4 lengths behind IROKO which looks like good form now. Harry Fry has being rather bullish of his chances and fancies him to run a big race here. 

Queen Mother Champion Chase – This is all about EL FABIOLO, this lad this different gravy in all fairness. Now his jumping is really the only quirk he has to his game but has looked to have improved a fair bit in that department this season. I do believe he is a much stronger unit than JONBON and will get the upper hand of him again this year.

JONBON is a sublime horse but the run on the last day behind ELIXIR DU NUTS would really give him no hope whatsoever to turn up here and serve it up to EL FABIOLO. EDWARDSTONE deserves respect and looked very good on his last outing making it all from the front and jumping with real panache! I do think this trip is his best but we have already seen what JONBON has done to him on 2 occasions this season, I think if he got into a battle with EL FABIOLO, he would break EDWARDSTONE. I am firmly in the Arkle winners corner for this and is definitely one for the ACCAS.

Selection – EL FABIOLO 4/9

Cross Country Chase

MINELLA INDO 9/4 looks set to run a blinder here. Off the back of his prep run and first time over the cross-country fences, I think that prep giving that much weight away is mightily impressive and now going off with level weights you’d have to be in his camp for this. His form around Cheltenham is sublime, he’s a proper Grade 1 horse who really comes into his own around here. 

It is more often displayed that the classier horses come to the fore here and often the favourites in the market win this race, 10 of the last 12 winners of the Cross Country have been in the top three of the market prior to the race. I do think MINELLA INDO is the likeliest winner and can’t really see an each way angle into the race.

Selection – MINELLA INDO 9/4

Grand Annual Chase – HARPERS BROOK 12/1 EW is a very interesting runner in this years Grand Annual. The horse definitely has ability and has shown plenty of good performances but somehow managed to get beaten. Yes he is an absolute nutcase but since running over 2M, Ben Pauling looks to have got this lad back on track and the way the Grand Annual is ran, he looks to have the profile and style where he is going to relish this task. Ben Pauling is in tremendous form this year and if he is going to have a winner at the festival, this lad could well be his best chance of doing so!

PATH D’OROUX 14/1 EW is my second fancy here, I think he was desperately unlucky not to win on the last day where he was just outstayed by MADARA. He is now getting weight back from MADARA and if this race was the plan by Gavin Cromwell then he must now be fully tuned to run a blinder here. It also gives a vote of confidence that Cromwell is sending the Grand Annual favourite MY MATE MOZZIE to the arkle, which to me implies that he is happy with just sending PATH D’OROUX here. I think he will definitely be making the frame and will likely wait until the day to bet him and get the extra places on offer.

Weatherbys Champion Bumper

I really think the best bumper horse I have seen this year aside from the Emmet Mullins horse JEROBOAM MACHIN, is WILLIAM MUNNY for Barry Connell. Had he have ran here, he would have being my NAP of the day. The next best thing from the form there is C’EST TA CHANCE 16/1 EW. I think the way he shaped through the race on the last day was very impressive and in the end was just beaten by the better horse but he was only beaten by a neck. I think there is a chance he will have come on from that run and it will have put him bang in frame for this here and I think he will run a massive race. Willie Mullins is the master of the bumper race here and has won 6 out of the last 12 , 3 of which have come from the last 4 renewals. Yes he does have the favourite in JASMIN DE VAUX but I think C’EST TA CHANCE represents way better value at 16/1.

TEESHAN 9/1 EW was mightily impressive on his debut for Paul Nicholls. Despite being rather green, he asserted strongly in the dying stages of the race and had it put to bed within seconds. After what we saw here with CAPTAIN TEAGUE running into 3rd here last year for the same connections, I think TEESHAN possibly looks a nicer prospect and think he has a good chance here. Finally, if there is 6 places on offer on the day I will have a bet on THE YELLOW CLAY 9/1 EW.

This lad run a corker to finish 4th at the DRF behind JEROBOAM MACHIN and possibly with an easier run he could have gotten a lot closer. This lad has being the talk of many preview nights and it’s hard to oppose the bullish comments coming from Gordon Elliot. 


Cheltenham Festival – Thursday

Turners Novices Chase – Now in an antepost blog I did maybe a month ago now, I was all over GINNYS DESTINY but I must admit, my mind has being on the tilt with it being reported and the exchanges showing that GREY DAWNING may come here, and it’s starting to shape that way.

IROKO has come back from the dead to get here and despite only having 1 run over fences, the way he did it on debut at Warwick was very impressive. FACILE VEGA is obviously the ‘GRADE 1’ horse and it’s looked apparent even from his chasing debut that a step up to 2 and a half miles would bring this horse on massively, fair to say the yard have never abandoned him and is the apple of Willie Mullins’ eye. GAELIC WARRIOR in my opinion won’t come here, I think with the withdrawal of MARINE NATIONALE in the arkle, that race looks wide open and would have a better of chance of winning that. The key stat for me is that 10 of the last 12 winners of the turners have won on their previous start… which instantly disregards FACILE VEGA & GAELIC WARRIOR. 

I do believe that if IROKO had have had a full season in training, he would be my idea of the winner of this race. I just think he does everything right and has a serious engine on him. The yard are bullish of his chances despite missing most of the season. He is also a winner over the course and distance, already a previous festival winner as we saw him win the Martin Pipe last year in stylish fashion. I will be having a play on this lad, he is far too talented to leave out and with the 3 places on offer now, IROKO 6/1 EW is a safe bet.

GREY DAWNING looks set to run here and I do believe with that being the case that he will go on and reverse the form with GINNYS DESTINY.

The only thing that puts me off GREY DAWNING is Harry Skelton. I think he is a fantastic jockey but sometimes gives horses an absolute shocker and he has done that on this lad before… I just can’t back him. FACILE VEGA looked to have improved vastly on the last day at the DRF in the Irish Arkle and showed a game attitude there to plug on into 3rd over a distance which evidently does not suit him. He is crying out for a step up in trip. The yard have never lost faith in this lad and its because he is a class animal. We saw what he did here in the Champion Bumper, we saw how close he went last year in the supreme but again, could have being argued that he should have gone for the Ballymore…

He goes well around the course and I have no doubt that if he is stepped up in trip, he will be a much better horse that what he shows us over 2 miles. He is the class angle into this race, GREY DAWNING and GINNYS DESTINY are fantastic horses but it’s worth remembering that most of their successes have come in handicaps. This FACILE VEGA is a proper GRADE 1 animal, if he’s bang on song here, I think he’s going to take all the beating. 

Selections – IROKO 6/1 EW & FACILE VEGA 9/2 

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle

This years renewal of the Pertemps is very tricky and could make a case for most of these here. I think working alongside the trends of this race help break down what to be having in the back of your mind when making your selections. 11 of the last 12 winners were aged between 6 and 8 which instantly takes CHANTRY HOUSE out of the picture. 2 of the last 12 winners were favourites, 5/12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting, 7/12 winners were priced 10/1 or bigger which is a nice stat to have if you’re betting more than one in this. My first selection here is MONMIRAL 25/1 EW.

This lad has some what fell out of favour at Ditcheat, he was running against the likes of JONBON and winning GRADE 1’S. It’s evident that his chasing career didn’t quite hit the heights that was expected but this lad is so talented. I reckon Nicholls will have him bang on here to run a big race then possibly tackle a stayers hurdle next year with him, he is only 7 and I think there is definitely some wiggle room for improvement off a mark of 138. He was rated 153 over hurdles as a juvenile and even raced in a GRADE 1 featuring EPATANTE & NOT SO SLEEPY.

Riddled with talent this lad and I hope he goes well at a nice price.  GOATH CHUIL 10/1 EW is my second selection for this race. She just looks suited to run a belter here, she will be likely coming from off the pace and will stay this trip with no doubts at all, she has being in exceptional form all season and has a cracking chance each way here. LORD SNOOTIE 20/1 EW is my final selection for this years Pertemps. The run on the last day to finish only half a length behind CUTHBERT DIBBLE is rock solid form. He is now getting an entire stone in weight from CUTHBERT DIBBLE and I would fully expect him to reverse that form here.

I think Christian Williams is a master at handicapping horses and just off a mark of 125, I think he certainly has a lot more room for improvement.

Selections – MONMIRAL 25/1 EW, GOATH CHUIL 10/1 EW, LORD SNOOTIE 20/1 EW

Ryanair Chase

A nice renewal of the Ryanair this year but is going slightly under the radar, other races are more appealing it would seem. However this is a belting race. The ground is likely going to dictate the race this year because if it isn’t good ground, I think BANBRIDGE has no chance of winning this. Last years winner ENVOI ALLEN is sat here at 4/1 and must have a massive chance here. He has being kept fresh for this all season and off the back of his last run finishing just a neck behind Gold Cup contender GERRI COLOMBE, he would have to have a right chance to land another GRADE 1 success here. STAGE STAR turns up here off the back of being pulled up carrying top weight in a tidy handicap. I do think that only having 1 fully ran race could impede his chances here, but he is a top class horse and would be no shock to see him win here. I love the chances of CONFLATED 9/1 EW.  

He has 2 U’s next to his name but was unseated in the dying embers of the race last time out or he would have being either 2nd or 3rd behind GALOPIN DES CHAMPS. I do think he should have gone to the Cross Country as he would have being my idea of the winner of that race but I think he may have enough class to go very close here too. He is so consistent and never really puts a foot wrong. In his race where he finished 3rd behind GERRI COLOMBE, ENVOI ALLEN was in that race too and was only a length behind him there. I do think that he has a good chance of finishing within the frame here and on a going day, he has a live chance of landing the spoils in a field of this calibre.

I cannot back AHOY SENOR, he is very much just becoming an enigma and in these proper Grade 1 fields will get caught out for his mistakes. FUGITIF is a fantastic horse but I feel at this level may just be found out. GA LAW looked back to his best on his last run over this course and distance, to me he has always being a 2 and half-miler and never understood the reason to step him up to 3 miles. He could have a chance of going close here. PROTEKTORAT has ran 2 solid races behind L’HOMME PRESSE and SHISHKIN on his last 2 starts and the way he goes through his races may suggest that if he’s put out from the front from the start, he may not be for catching over a reduced trip.

But for me it’s ENVOI ALLEN 4/1 who gets my vote of confidence, I just think he is rock solid and is a better horse when fresh, he is versatile on all grounds and can be ridden in any way you want, he won it last year… I think he is the one to beat this year too.

Selections – ENVOI ALLEN 4/1 & CONFLATED 9/1 EW

Stayers Hurdle

TEAHUPPO 5/2 looks rock solid here. Now with IRISH POINT set to run in the Champion Hurdle and be pulled out of this, Gordo must be pretty confident he can win this with TEAHUPPO. He was narrowly beaten by SIRE DU BERLAIS last year by 3 quarters of a length and there is no doubt in my mind that TEAHUPPO has become a much stronger horse since that run, the form of beating IMPAIRE ET PASSE by a length can be cramped but that was over 2M 4F. I think the extra distance brings out the best of this lad and is my idea of the winner.

SIR GERHARD 9/1 EW represents a good each way bet. He never got going over the sticks and I think the idea of reverting back to hurdles and stepping him up in trip is an excellent call by Willie Mullins. This lad oozes class on his best day, he is arguably the most talented horse within this field and its worth mentioning his form around here, he is a Champion Bumper winer & a Ballymore winner.

I think all along this lad has being a hurdler but was desperate for further, I think on talent alone, that could see him go close here in what is a weak race on paper.

Selections – TEAHUPPO 5/2 & SIR GERHARD 9/1 EW

Trustatrader Plate Handicap Chase

CREBILLY 9/2 could just be in a league of his own here. This lad is way ahead of a mark of 140, he would have arguably beaten GINNYS DESTINY in November had he have not fallen. If GINNYS DESTINY is a 150+ horse and Paul Nicholls best hope of a winner at Cheltenham, this lad is absolutely thrown in. If Trelawne runs a good race in the Ultima, the form of his last win will again take another boost and may even shorten further. He is my idea of the winner. I would also give a chance to IL RIDOTO 18/1 EW.

He always runs a good race around here and was 5th last year. I would say this years renewal isn’t as trappy as last seasons so he would have a good chance of getting into the frame around a course he is very consistent around. SAINT FELICIEN 16/1 EW is my final selection in this race. I love this horse and do think he is a graded animal in the waiting, he has being rock solid all season long over the 2m4f trip.

I think he is a progressive type and could go close for Gordo who looks set to have an excellent festival.

Selections – CREBILLY 9/2, IL RIDOTO 18/1 EW & SAINT FELICIEN 16/1 EW 

Mares Novices Hurdle

BRIGHTERDAYSAHEAD 11/8 is my idea of this years winner. She just does everything right and too a standard that sets her well apart from this lot here, she would probably have a good chance in the Mares if she ran in it, that performance on the last day looks easily a 150 + and that truly sets the standard here. She is electric! The yard can’t speak highly enough of her.

Both Jack Kennedy and Gordon Elliot have said this is their best chance of a winner at the festival. She has being backed in from 5/2 into 11/8 within a week, luckily I am on at 5’s antepost and advised her as a selection at 5/2 just a few weeks back. She may well be my NAP of the festival…she is special!


Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase

This looks a very tricky puzzle to solve. INOTHEWAYURTHINKIN has received plenty of support in the last few days and now sits as the 4/1 favourite. Only 2 favourites out of the last 12 have won this race so that would certainly put you off, but I think he has a right chance here and looks a proper plot by Gavin Cromwell. We know how good Cromwell has being in bringing these horses over to the UK all year and winning big handicaps and this lad looks one of those signature handicap plots.

9th on his last run and finished no where within sight, go back a few runs before his last and you’ll see he has form behind GAELIC WARRIOR, IL ETAIT TEMPS and has finished ahead of AMERICAN MIKE who has beaten FACT TO FILE this season. That form instantly puts him right at the top, the 9th looks intended in my opinion to significantly lower his mark to get into this. If he returns to his best form he has a solid chance. I do also like last years winner ANGELS DAWN 10/1 EW.

If he returns here the same way he showed up last year then you’d struggle to see him out of the places. He stays longer than the in laws, had a nice prep run on the last day, and obviously goes well around here.


Cheltenham Festival – Friday

JCB Triumph Hurdle – SIR GINO 1/1 looks way ahead of this lot here and is going to take all the beating here. He’s won so impressively on the last day against BURDETT ROAD and that was ran over course and distance which can sometimes make all the difference in these juvenile races. He looks to have gears to burn through and I can see him winning these with ease.

KARGESE looks a nice mare but think she may find the task of beating SIR GINO a bit too much at this stage, yes she gets the mares allowance but I think SIR GINON is just a different class to her.

SALVADOR MUNDI is the lurker, he was last seen finishing a close 2nd behind SIR GINO when they were both running in France. They are both now owned by the Donnelly’s. Patrick Mullins has confirmed that he will be running here. Willie may well have being keeping this one back but not having a run all season is slightly concerning and I don’t think he will be fit enough to beat SIR GINO. But at 12/1 he may be overlooked.

Selections – SIR GINO 1/1 & SALVADOR MUNDI 12/1 EW.

County Handicap Hurdle

The way IBERICO LORD got up in the Betfair Hurdle was exceptional and puts himself right on track here to land the County Hurdle. He has given weight away to L’EAU DU SUD and the Skelton horse looked home and hosed, IBERICO LORD came from the clouds under a power driven ride by Nico to get up and eventually win by 2 ½ lengths in the end. I think he needs a bit of a cut in the ground but he is extremely talented and would have a big chance here. Willie Mullins and Dan Skelton have recently dominated this race and both have solid chances in ABSURDE and L’EAU DU SUD. I did tip up Skeltons horse at 33/1 in the Betfair Hurdle and was gutted he didn’t win that race and to me just looked simply outstayed by IBERICO LORD. I do think he will have a good chance off the back of that run but at 8/1 I will avoid him this time. ABSURDE ran a good race at the DRF finishing behind KING OF KINGSFIELD, he is now getting 2lbs from KING OF KINGSFIELD who sits as 6/1 FAV for this. I think there is a good chance of that form reversing there. Willie always has something up his sleeve for this and is worth paying attention to any big swings in the market, similar to what we saw with STATE MAN in this a few years ago. 


Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle

READIN TOMMY WRONG 6/1 looks the winner to me for this renewal of the Albert Bartlett. As mentioned in my antepost blog a few weeks ago, from the moment we saw him in the Lawlors Of Naas, he looked the mould of an Albert Bartlett winner. He has some serious horses in behind him there and brings the strongest form on paper into this race. The vibes are that Paul Townend will be jocked up here which shows that the yard have him ahead of DANCING CITY and HIGH CLASS HERO. 

If NOW IS THE HOUR was to be supplemented for this race by Gavin Cromwell, I think he would have a right chance at likely a big price. He was exceptional at Exeter on the last day and that performance alone would see him with a bold bid here. He could well be another VANILLIER by Cromwell and we all know how impressive he was that year.


Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

The pinnacle of Cheltenham. The Gold Cup. From the minute I saw GALOPIN DES CHAMPS win this last year, I had another antepost docket readied for this years renewal. This horse holds a huge place in my heart and is my favourite horse in training. To me he is easily the most likeliest winner of this years Gold Cup. Go back to the Savills Chase, there is no horse in the world that would have beaten GALOPIN in that form there. GERRI COLOMBE sat in 2nd 23 lengths behind GDC on that day and finished that debate.

He then silenced many in the Irish Gold Cup putting away FASTORSLOW in stylish fashion and wasn’t for stopping at the line. The extra distance is going to only aid him as well. I cannot see anything beating GALOPIN DES CHAMPS here. I love SHISHKIN and I would have him the horse to chase home GALOPIN. I have no doubts he would have won the King George on the last day had he have not stumbled on landing. Yes he is an absolute nut case but I think on his best days, he is definitely in there with a shout. CORACH RAMBLER 22/1 EW is my final selection for this race but I will only play this if there is 5 places on offer on the day.

This lad stays for fun, he has being kept fresh by Lucinda Russell which I think is an excellent call. He turns into a different beast around here and I do think if he’s turning for home, he will definitely be of interest because the further he goes, the better he gets… some of these in here will be slowing down when this lad is only just getting going. 

Selections – GALOPIN DES CHAMPS 11/8, SHISHKIN 7/1 EW, CORACH RAMBLER 22/1 EW (only a bet if 5 places)

St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

IT’S ON THE LINE 3/1 should take some whacking in this. He comes into this beating majority of the field in convincing fashion. He was narrowly beaten by PREMIER MAGIC last year and was too late being sent on to catch the long time leader. I think he looks to have improved again this year and will take all the beating.

Selections – IT’S ON THE LINE 3/1 & SAMCRO 16/1 EW

Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase

DINOBLUE 1/1 is way better than all of these here. She is a different class. Last seen finishing behind EL FABIOLO and infront of CAPTAIN GUINESS puts her form right to the top of the tree here. She would have a chance of finishing ahead of EDWARDSTONE and JONBON and could have easily gone down the champion chase route.

She has the pedigree to suggest she will stay the extra 4 furlongs and on class alone she should just win this. LIMERICK LACE looks a nice enough mare and she would be the danger.

Selection – DINOBLUE 1/1

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Willie has the favourite in the market who has being smashed in since Ruby Walsh’s bullish comments, QUAI DE BOURBON does look like a horse for next year and arguably has the most potential out of this lot but 4/1 for a Martin Pipe is ridiculously short.

WATERFORD WHISPERS 11/1 EW has to have a massive chance, and this is the only race he was entered in throughout all of the handicaps at Cheltenham. He has being in extremely consistent form all season round and looks a very progressive type for Henry De Bromhead and will make a lovely chaser next year. 9 of the last 12 winners carried between 11st 3lbs & 11st 9lbs which would boost optimism of my next selection, NO ORDINARY JOE 10/1 EW.

He was an eye-catcher on his last appearance and clearly ridden for a place and those tactics were very well executed. He was 2nd in this last year to IROKO and in fairness, I don’t see anything as talented as IROKO in here. He has to have a massive chance for JP and Nicky Henderson here at a nice price. 


You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours