Road to the Cheltenham Festival 2024 – 1 week to go


It’s that time of year again, where we look ahead to the Cheltenham Gold Cup Festival and with just a week before the festival, here is our final preview post.

For those who haven’t followed Severn Sport during the run up to and the Festival itself, our coverage includes posts at 8, 4 2 and 1 week to go markers, as well as a Tipster League during Festival week – where figures from football in Gloucestershire compete to be crowned our King Tipster.

In January, Severn Sport’s Ryan Butler was joined by Tipster League veteran, Damon Highet, and Slimbridge Co-Manager, Tom Deakin, for our first preview post, where the boys looked at their Best and Worst Priced Favourites and Longshots.

Then, with 4 weeks to go, Butler, Highet, Deakin and Tuffley Rovers defender, Joel White, looked at Two Horses & One Race to watch – as the bookies began to turn “non-runner no bet” for the Festival.

Last week saw Butler and Highet joined by Ryan’s brother, Ashley, and Severn Sport’s resident tipster – Michael Hedley-Ward, to give their antepost Lucky 15s.

Now with just a week to go until the Cheltenham roar is in full force, Butler takes a look at a key race from each day of the festival and how they are shaping up, starting with Tuesday.

As always, Severn Sport encourages everyone to bet responsibly and the prices and returns below are taken from Oddschecker at the time of writing, so are subject to change.

Tuesday 12 March – 15.30 – Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) (GBB Race)

There is only one place to start. With the news on Monday afternoon that Constitution Hill was OUT of the festival, the Champion Hurdle suddenly becomes must-see and very unpredictable.

State Man is now the very obvious favourite and the best horse in the race, but there are now conversations to be had over the week between owners and trainers – meaning State Man is likely to face better competition than Constitution Hill would have.

There is talk that one or both of Lossiemouth and Irish Point could line up next to State Man, however many antepost punters will be hoping they stay in line for the Mares Hurdle and Stayers Hurdle, respectively.

However, I would love to see Lossiemouth switch to this race to see Magical Zoe’s chances in the Mares improve.

Elsewhere, Not So Sleepy and Zarak The Brave looked to be outsiders to challenge CH, so their prices have shortened slightly after the news, whilst Pied Piper could also be switched back for this from the County Hurdle, depending on Gordon Elliott.

With a week to go, there are 18 runners on the list and hopefully we don’t see it go off with less than the 7 we saw line up in 2023.

Butler’s Tip – Not So Sleepy each way (14/1 – Sky Bet, Paddy Power, betfair)

Wednesday 13 March – 16.10 – Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country Chase) (GBB Race)

On Day Two of the festival there is a Cross Country Chase full of star power and it has been one that has caught my eye in the antepost market.

Delta Work and Galvin scored a 1-2 for Gordon Elliott last year and whilst they are rightly at the top end of the market again, the market favourite Minella Indo is easy to back, after all his Cheltenham record is sensational.

Further back in the market sees the likes of Coko Beach, Escaria Ten and Conflated, who have all appeared in either the Gold Cup or Grand National in recent renewals, as well as a Willie Mullins beast in Stattler.

I like Foxy Jacks, though, 40/1 last year and looked good until a mistake ultimately ended up with the rider being unseated – however a number of decent runs since see the price hovering at 14s in most places.

Further afield, trio, Annual Invictus, Back on the Lash and Francky Du Berlais will give you a good run at a big price (40/1, 40/1 and 66/1 currently – if they line up against the superstars.

One horse I think could run a big race as well, if he makes it, is Singing Banjo

Butler’s Tip – Foxy Jacks each way (14/1 – Sky Bet, Paddy Power, betfair)

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Thursday 14 March – 15.30- Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (GBB Race)

The race on day three that I always enjoy, is the Stayers Hurdle and this year it is no different.

Last year’s third place, Teahupoo will be an even stronger favourite if Irish Point does move across to the Champion Hurdle, if he doesn’t then these two are expected to be well backed and to lead a strong market.

In the 2023 renewal, we saw a 33/1 first place and 40/1 runner up in Sire Du Berlais and Dashel Drasher, and they will both offer great value once again (currently 20/1 and 33/1).

Grand National winner, Noble Yeats, who was unsuccessful in the Gold Cup last year, looks set to line up in the Stayers if he runs at Cheltenham and both he and Crambo offer reliable alternatives to the two leaders.

Sir Gerhard and Monkfish look to be Willie Mullins’ best chances in the race – with the latter set to make his return to Cheltenham after a long injury lay-off. Although, it would be typical Asterion Forlonge to turn up, completely unfancied, and win at 50/1.

And of course, it is dangerous to rule out Paisley Park, in what is likely his final appearance at the Festival.

Butler’s Tip – Sir Gerhard each way (10/1 – Sky Bet, William Hill, Betfred)

Friday 15 March – 15.30- Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race)

At this point, only 16 runners are entered in the Gold Cup and at this stage, the race has plenty to offer.

Galopin Des Champs will now be many punters’ main antepost fancy after last year’s win and his recent runs suggest it could be a formality.

But, if GDC does have an off day or fails to finish (like the Turners two years ago) there are plenty who could take advantage – including Fastorslow and Gerri Colombe.

Nicky Henderson’s yard are producing some hideous pre-festival form and with Constitution Hill now not appearing in the Champion Hurdle, Shishkin will be flying the flag for the yard in this. Not always reliable but a proper “on his day” horse.

L’Homme Presse missed last year’s festival and despite being pipped into second last time out, will give a good run for Venetia Williams, whilst Bravemansgame and Gentlemansgame offer good value for Paul Nicholls and Mouse Morris at 16/1.

Further back in the market, Corach Rambler and Monkfish are decent prices, however appear to be more likely to appear elsewhere – with Hewick offering great value at 20s after falling when looking good last year.

I also wouldn’t discount Ahoy Senor and The Real Whacker at bigger prices (66/1 and 40/1) if they line up on the big race of the final day.

Butler’s Tip – Gentlemansgame each way (16/1 – Sky Bet, William Hill, Betfred)

Check back on Monday when we will be launching the 2024 Tipster League, with our competitors and their antepost tips revealed!

Cover photo copyright Getty Images

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