Road to the Cheltenham Festival 2024 – 8 weeks to go


CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: A general view as runners turn away from the grandstand during The Ultima Handicap Chase on day one of The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 15, 2022 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

It’s that time of year again, where we look ahead to the Cheltenham Gold Cup Festival in March and with two months before the feature race, here is our first post of the year!

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.

With that being said, Severn Sport’s Ryan Butler is joined by Tipster League veteran, Damon Highet, and Slimbridge Co-Manager, Tom Deakin, for our first preview post.

At the 8 weeks to go mark, the early betting market is a minefield – so to help you, we are looking at the Best Priced Favourite, Worst Priced Favourite/Favourite to take on and our antepost Longshot.

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

Let’s start with the Best Priced Favourite.

DH: Galopin Des Champs in the Gold Cup, for me. It was between GDC and Constitution Hill, but with GDC being above even money you have to take that. I cannot see a world in which he doesn’t win the Gold Cup.

Best Price – 6/5 (bet365)

TD: Ballyburn being 4/1 (I’m on at 16/1) in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle on Wednesday. I think 2m 4f is his trip and I’ve liked this horse since his debut. I’ve waited for him to step up in trip and he oozed class at Xmas. The only doubt is Mullins Bingo and where they all may run.

Best Price – 4/1 (bet365, Betfair, Boyle Sports, Paddy Power)

RB: At this stage I cannot decide whether Gaelic Warrior being just a shade over evens for the Turners Novices Chase on Thursday is the best or worst price favourite! Ultimately, it will depend on who lines up alongside him on the day. A strong Turners could see him drift out to bigger, but a small field and he goes off as an odds on favourite.

Best Price – 11/8 (bet365)

Next up is the Worst Price Favourite/Favourite to take on.

DH: Lossiemouth in the Mares Hurdle (Tuesday). 5/2 for a race that competitive! If she wasn’t trained and owned by who she is she (Willie Mullins) then she wouldn’t be the favourite, so I’m happy to take her on with plenty of horses from that field.

Best Price – 5/2 (BetVictor, bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power)

TD: The favourite that gets beat is Allaho in the Ryanair Chase (Thursday). The plan might be to go to the Ryanair, but I think his injury last season will have knocked him back and with the likes of Banbridge, Envoi Allen and even Appreciate It running well this season the chances of him regaining his crown, I feel, are slim.

Best Price – 11/4 (Betfair, SkyBet, Paddy Power)

RB: The favourite I’m taking on at this stage is Conflated in the Cross Country Chase on the Wednesday. To be installed as favourite against the likes of Galvin, Minella Indo and Delta Work, who have all won at Cheltenham previously, leaves the market full of value. Since finishing 3rd in the Gold Cup last year, Conflated has pulled up at Aintree, before finishing three out of four, last of five and unseating the rider so far this season.

Best Price – 7/2 (bet365)

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And to round off the first post of the season, the boys’ Longshot at this stage – we gave them one rule, a minimum price of 10/1 at the time of writing.

DH: Sir Gerhard in the Stayers Hurdle (Thursday). I’ve always liked him over a long testing trip – has failed at king distances twice! But I think they know he will come good and connections keep the faith and so will I at 12+/1

Best Price – 14/1 (bet365)

TD: Farouk D’Alene in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle, also on Thursday. Novice hurdle form was good enough to see him be antepost Favourite for the Albert Bartlett, but he didn’t make it to the race. He was coming with a run when he fell 2out behind L’Homme Presse in the RSA back in 2022.

He had been off the track until this season, before finishing 2nd in a qualifier for the race at Xmas and will have a “handicapping run” next week. A proper Gordon Elliott plot job in a race where he has a good record.

Best Price – 16/1 (Paddy Power)

RB: “Cheltenham form” is always something you have to take into account, for me. And having re-watched the ending of each of the 2023 races on YouTube last night, I am even happier with the antepost punt I have had on Magical Zoe in the Mares Hurdle. Had to come round the houses, but was flying up the hill to finish 2nd in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle – passing some well fancied mares in doing so. The price is too high in my opinion.

Best Price – 20/1 (bet365)

Next month we will be back with another preview post for the Cheltenham Gold Cup Festival, as Butler starts piecing together this years Tipster League!

Cover photo copyright Getty Images

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