Monday, March 11, 2024

Cheltenham Festival 2024 - Tuesday

Generally, over the years, I haven't struck too many wagers on the first day of a Festival meeting but, for the first time in a long time, I've really struggled to winkle out a wager that makes much appeal.

The Champion Hurdle (3.30) is of little interest for betting purposes, Irish novices look some way ahead of their British counterparts in the Supreme (1.30) - rain hasn't helped the chance of Ben Pauling's charge Tellherthename - while anything can win the Arkle (2.50), and if there's value left in the Ultima (2.50), I haven't been able to spot it..

They say one of the the biggest weapons in a punter's armoury is deciding when to play - for my only bet of the opening day I've gone for a bit of a punt in the finale.

5.30 Maureen Mullins National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase.

Seven declared, with the going described as soft after 11mm of rain fell over the weekend.

Greg Wood of the Guardian predicts 'another almighty beating' for British jumping at this year's Festival - 'It is only the scale of the embarrassment that has yet to be decided' - and the three Irish trained horses in this field dominate the market; Embassy Gardens is the one to beat on Racing Post ratings.

About this time last year Corbetts Cross was in the process of giving Stay Away Fay a run for his money in the Albert Bartlett before jinking right and running out at the last (Embassy Gardens pulled up before the last after running too freely). 

In four chase starts this term Emmet Mullins' charge has looked novicey at his obstacles on occasions but he'll benefit from the assistance of top amateur Mr Derek O'Connor. 

At Fairyhouse five weeks ago Corbetts Cross jumped out to his left left, Run Wild Fred to his right and a mid-air collision ensued, with both coming to grief three from home.

Both Corbetts Cross and Embassy Gardens wear a first-time hood; Willie Mullins' charge has looked the more assured jumper of the pair on his two starts over fences.

Salvador Ziggy, second in the Pertemps Final last year and second in the Kerry National on his penultimate start, hasn't been seen since finishing seventh of eight runners at Far Hills, New Jersey in the autumn; he would probably prefer better ground.

Between them, Mullins and Elliott have won six of the past ten renewals of this race, three victories apiece.  

The mare Apple Away comes into this on the back of two tough races in the Hampton Novices' Chase at Warwick (won by Grey Dawning) and the Reynoldstown at Ascot in which Henry's Friend held Kilbeg King a head.

Kilbeg King, still to win a chase, was beaten just under 15 lengths by the impressive Il Etait Francais in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day; Anthony Honeyball's charge clearly has an engine but he made a number of niggly errors at Ascot and was ultimately undone by one at the last.

On just his second chase start front-runner Mr Vango made all and ran his rivals ragged on heavy ground in the Devon National at Exeter 18 days ago, beating Foxboro 60 lengths; he's the only one in this field to have won at this distance. 

He jumped neatly in the main but took a mighty chunk out of the third last and certainly won't be able to take similar liberties here; in addition 18 days' recovery time is far from ideal for a staying chaser. 

That said, he beat Inis Oirr a neck in a Haydock maiden in 2022 - that one won the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh last month and is currently priced up 7/1 favourite for the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on Saturday.

He needs to find more in this; connections have opted to fit cheekpieces for the first time.

With Betfred, Coral, Sky and bet365 paying three places, the outsider in the field Mr Vango represents an each-way play at around 20/1.

Mr Vango is the each-way suggestion, currently priced 22/1 with Coral.


Trainer Sara Bradstock has taken over the licence following the death of husband Mark earlier this month after a long illness; there won't be a dry eye in the house should Mr Vango come home in front.  


TW said...

Conversely, the finale and the Champion hurdle are the only two races I've not manged to find a bet in on Day 1!

Permission requested to post my notes, but don't want to clutter your comments, so a refusal will not offend.


GeeDee said...


Go for it! Happy to publish notes!


TW said...

Part 1

13:30 - Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle 2m ½f

Top Rated


Favour and Fortune & Asian Master both look offer possible value at odds of 25/1.

The form of the Tolworth has a very solid look and Favour and Fortune’s 2nd to Fun Fun Fun giving her 10lbs on ground heavier than ideal at Exeter LTO now looks even better following the mare’s comfortable win at Naas on Sunday. Less rain would probably suit.

Tom Costello, challenger for the world’s tallest jockey, cannot claim his allowance aboard his parent’s horse Asian Master. He has done nothing wrong, two wins from two runs, since moving across to Mr Mullins yard suggesting we’ve not got to the bottom of him yet. They did not seem to go fast enough for him LTO but he still won well enough and Fiveonfive gives the form of that race a bit of substance. More rain would probably not be an issue.

14:10 - My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase 2m

Top Rated


Gaelic Warrior heads the market but there are enough question marks [below par LTO, dropping back to 2 miles and going left handed] to take him on.

If the favourite does not deliver then the race has an open look to it and I’ll take an interest in Matata at 25/1. Discarded by Daryl Jacob’s, the havoc he caused at the first fence LTO aside he looked a novice chaser with some promise in his three starts this term. I think he may reverse form with JPR One back at Cheltenham and make one of the places.

14:50 - Ultima Handicap Chase 3m 1f

Top Rated


Meetingofthewaters has yet to prove he is a 147 rated chaser and, to my mind, The Goffer has already proved that he is not.

I’m going to take a small interest in old boy Lord Du Mesnil in the hope that he can keep in touch, stay on past beaten horses and take one of the 6 places on offer at 40/1. He only has one set of gears these days but most efforts this term at least suggest his heart is still in the game, he’s down to a mark of 140, stays longer than the mother-in-law and whilst he’s unlikely to match Vintage Clouds vintage 2021 win at the same age he might provide some fun in the race.

15:30 - Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 2m ½f

Top Rated


With Constitution Hill sidelined, State Man should run out a ready winner, a race I’m happy to sit out and watch his coronation.


TW said...

Part Two

16:10 - Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle) 2m 4f

Top Rated

Lossiemouth, though needing to proved the extra yardage is in her compass, fully deserves her place as clear market leader. I’m not sure the same holds true for Ashroe Diamond’s right to be clear 2nd favourite which perhaps provides place value opportunities elsewhere.

I’ll be monitoring Nicky Henderson’s three earlier runners on the card and if they perform with credit I’ll invest in an EW punt on Marie’s Rock. Three decent efforts this term suggest the 9yo is still up to dining at the top table, this trip is probably her best and she acts on most ground.

16:50 - Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Registered As The Fred Winter) 2m ½f

Top Rated

LIARI (FR),127

Taking on the Irish in a race they’ve dominated over recent years with a horse trained by a English trainer outside of the top rank might be silly. Latin Verse, a run of the mill flat horse, looks to enjoy hurdling and there are lines of form that closely match him to favourite Milan Tino, those form lines were enough for me to take an interest at 20/1 6 places.

17:30 - Maureen Mullins National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase 3m 6f

Top Rated

A surprise result would not really be a surprise here as it is easy to see potential in all of the field. Mr Vango would be a fitting tribute to Mark Bradstock’s accomplishments as a trainer. I’ll sit the race out.

Best of luck over the coming four days!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings and notes, TW.

Lord Du Mesnil is on my list of potentially well handicapped chasers (147 in the autumn, now 140). Others include:

City Chief (was 142, now 138) - entries in Kim Muir / Midlands Grand National.
The Big Breakaway (was 149, now 137) - no current entries.
Shan Blue (pulled up in 2022 Rowland Meyrick off 148, now 143) - no current entries.

Particularly dismayed about the absence of Shan Blue who was priced up 25/1 for the Ultima. Dan Skelton indicated his charge had posted his best effort for quite some time when third behind Threeunderthrufive in the Swinley Chase at Ascot last month.

Held an alternative entry in the Plate - but he's nowhere to be seen.

Another cunning plan bites the dust...

Good luck for this year's Festival!

TW said...

Mr Vango is the each-way suggestion, currently priced 22/1 with Coral.

Well done, ran a great race, good start to the week!

GeeDee said...


Top-rated Slade Steel won the opener with something to spare... :)

GeeDee said...

Following overnight rain, Mr Vango was backed in to 7/1 mid morning before eventually drifting out to 14/1 at the off.

The going was officially changed to heavy after the second race of the day (the Arkle).

The selection jumped well in front. Three from home he had no chance whatsoever with facile winner Corbetts Cross (15/8) but was disputing second with Embassy Gardens (7/4f) at the last where a mistake cost him; he finished a creditable third, beaten 17 lengths and eight and a half lengths.