Cheltenham Festival 2024

Cheltenham Festival 2024 Ante-Post Portfolio

Gold Cup - Gerri Colombe 4-1

Triumph Hurdle - Highwind 14-1 each-way NRNB

Arkle Chase - JPR One  10-1 each-way NRNB.

6th February 2024 

The betting for the Arkle Chase has a more open look to it following Marine Nationale getting turned over at the Dublin Racing Festival. I always had JPR One on the shortlist for this and have decided to back him. He would have won over track and trip in November but for a blunder at the last stumbling an unseating Brendan Powell and his defeat at Sandown when third in the G.1 Betfair Henry VIII Novices' Chase can be forgiven on the heavy ground. He was back in the winners enclosure in a Grade Two at Lingfield in January, having escaped a chaotic incident at the first fence, traveling strongly throughout. He looks the best of the British runners to me, no surprise Willie Mullins has a few towards the head of the market, and is worth a punt early NRNB as a few in here will surely run in other races come the Festival meaning his odds will likely shorten as we find out who the defectors are. I have the 10-1 each-way NRNB. Trainer Joe Tizzard said after Lingfield "Today was the best we’ve seen him and it was quite a comfortable watch because he travelled great and he’s got a fair bit about him on his day. We’ve always held him in really high regard. Had he not had that stumble at Cheltenham, he was going to look majorly impressive, and the ground took its toll in the Henry VIII at Sandown. He’s only a novice for one year and he’s beaten the best of the English novices today, so we’ll have a crack at it."

29th January 2024 

My oldest racing confidant Mr Griffiths put me on to Highwind as a possible Triumph contender after he watched the race the four-year-old trained by Willie Mullins won at Punchestown in mid January. I've watched the replay several times and he kicked just about every hurdle out the ground and almost stopped over the last after making a mistake but still won by around three-lengths. A winner on the Flat in France when with Christopher Head he certainly has an engine and if he learns to pick his legs up when encountering a Hurdle could turn out pretty damn good. He is due to run in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown this week, along with several of his stablemates, and a better round of jumping there, and a win, will see his price for the Triumph shrink quicker than your winky when ya dip your toe in the sea at Blackpool. 14-1 NRNB is available with Hills and I have a bit of that each-way for the Festival.

26th January 2024

Allaho will miss the Cheltenham Festival, it has been announced. Chris Richardson, Cheveley Park’s managing director, told the PA news agency “Allaho was found to be lame after his race at Thurles and it’s been diagnosed as a strained hock, so he’s going to require several weeks rest and recuperation and therefore sadly misses Cheltenham.” The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old carried the colours of Cheveley Park Stud to victory in 2021 and 2022 in the Ryanair Chase and he headed the ante-post lists for this year’s renewal.

24th January 2024

French raider Theleme is going to miss the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival after suffering a setback. Racing manager Bertrand Le Metayer, who manages the interests of British-based owners the Gordon Family said "We wanted to arrive at Cheltenham in the best form possible. The horse is lame and Arnaud [Chaille-Chaille] knows we could be doing him some damage instead of coming back stronger in 2025. It’s just a small setback and we know the horse, he’ll be fine; it’s just the timing. He should be fit again for the spring in France and we haven’t given up on the idea of Cheltenham. We’ll try again next year."

28th December 2023 

Gerri Colombe was defeated in the Savills Chase with Galopin Des Champs looking back to his best. I still think we'll see more from Gerri Colombe over the stamina testing Gold Cup trip but Galopin Des Champs is very much back in the picture after this effort. Trainer Gordon Elliott had no excuses and said: “I thought he was a bit disappointing. The winner was awesome and I don’t think any horse would have beaten him on the day.”

Irish Point (tipped on here) was very impressive winning the G.1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and would be a Stayers Hurdle contender surely for any other stable. He runs in Brian Acheson’s Robcour colours, who already has Stayers’ Hurdle jolly Teahupoo, and it may be that we won't see the pair at the Cheltenham Festival. Talking after the race Gordon Elliott said “Jack said he would have done more in a piece of work at home. He was very professional, settled and did everything great. You are always worried stepping up to three miles. It’s a nice race to win, we’ve a couple for that division now and it’s a good problem to have. We’ve a great bunch of horses and Jack said to me there that all I have to do now is to make sure to split them up. He could be a horse that we’d keep for Aintree, we’ll enjoy today and see what happens. The horse was very good and I thought it was a great performance. I thought he was so relaxed that he ticked all the boxes to stay, but you are always nervous until he does it. Jack said he actually thought halfway down the back that he was so relaxed, but he said when he gave him a squeeze he leapt straight back on it.” I really like the five-year-old but will hold-off from having a punt for now until it becomes more obvious which one will be at Cheltenham next March or if both will go. 

27th December 2023 

I have taken the plunge and backed Gerri Colombe at 4's with Coral for the Gold Cup. The Gordon Elliott trained seven-year-old is due to run in the Grade One three-mile Savills Chase at Leopardstown tomorrow (28th December) with the likes of reigning Champ  Galopin Des Champs and Fastorslow in opposition. I fancy him in the race and when he wins (see how confident I am) the price for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham will shrink quicker than your woolly Christmas jumper in the boil wash. I am sure there is more to come from him this year and that we might see even more improvement when he steps up to the extended three-and-a-quarter miles of the Gold Cup, a solid jumper he looks all about staying power to me. Gordon Elliott said at the start of the season "I was happy with him at Down Royal. If he’d been beaten, I probably would have been a bit annoyed about Jack staying on Conflated’s outside when he was jumping left all the way, but that was a decision he made in the moment and thankfully he got up to win. I think there’s loads of improvement in him, and a stiffer track will suit him. He doesn’t do anything fancy, but he finds a way to win. We are training him for the Gold Cup and the thought is that he’ll have just one run before then. I think the King George at Kempton would be too sharp for him, I wouldn’t like to run him at Tramore, and I feel the Irish Gold Cup can come a little close to Cheltenham if that is the main goal. At the minute, the Savills Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting is in the mix, but we have a couple of other options too."