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Sunday 10 March 2024

Cheltenham Festival 2024 update - 9th March

This is it, as of Saturday 9th March we have all the confirmed entries for the meeting, all we are missing is the final declarations; and for Tuesday that will come midday Sunday. We have few significant unanswered questions, such as which Mullins horse will Paul Townend ride in the Arkle? Now that Ballyburn is confirmed for the "Gallagher", just how many rivals will he face in that race and, of those that don't take up the challenge which race will they end-up in? Let's look at the entries for Gold Cup day.

Friday opens with the Triumph Hurdle for 4yo's; this can be a tricky race but the market usually gets this right. By Friday, we should know just how well the Henderson stable is firing, and that will determine what odds Sir Gino goes off at. He will start the fav, and if I can get 7/4 or longer then I'll be on him. Mullins currently has 7 still in the race, and I expect Townend to ride Majborough and this horse could be anything. A "dark horse" worth an ew wager is Nurburgring: he hasn't run since Boxing Day but that run was as good as anything else we've seen this season as although he didn't win he was conceding weight to smart horses. This isn't a race I tend to wager on until the day.

The 3-mile "Albert Bartlett" novice hurdle is another grade 1 race that I tend not to wager on until the day. Trainer, de Bromhead only has 33/1 chance Chigorin entered; Elliott has 5 entries, butt he shortest in the betting is My Trump Card at 20/1; Mullins on the other hand has 7 entries including the 3 heading the betting: Readin Tommy Wrong, Dancing City and High Class Hero. Right now, the Harry Fry trained Gidleigh Park ticks a lot of boxes, and is almost certain to run; for me, he's the most interesting. 

The final Grade 1 race of the Festival is the Gold Cup, run over 3m 2f & 70yds.
It's very difficult to look past last years winner Galopin Des Champs, who has showed with his last couple of races that he's as good, if not better, than last season. Personally, I'm amazed that odds of 5/4 are available, as he looks an odds-on chance to me. So I will be looking at using him as a "banker" in doubles and trebles. Martin Brassil seriously rates the chance of Fastorslow, and he does look better at the fences than GDC, but the champion has the edge on speed and stamina. In my eyes, Shishkin demonstrated at Newbury last month that had he not made the error 2-out in the King George at Kempton, he'd have won and probably won with something in hand. In 2nd, would have been Bravemansgame, as he lost at least 3-lengths (plus momentum) at the 2nd-last through no fault of his own, then stayed on strong. Without that interference, he would not have been caught and passed by Hewick, but I doubt he'd have beaten Shishkin. 
My 1-2-3 is Galopin Des Champs; with Shishkin 2nd, and Bravemansgame 3rd
There's not much between Bravemansgame and Fastorslow; but BMG has more 160+ performances and we know after running 2nd in the Gold Cup last season, that he handles the track & trip well. I don't think Gerri Colombe or Hewick will figure in the race - unless we have some fallers - and I can see why some are considering Grand National winner Corach Rambler as having an ew chance (Grand National winners tend to do well in the Gold Cup) but this year the Gold Cup looks more competitive than most years.  If there is a dark horse in the race, it's L'Homme Presse.

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