Cheltenham Festival Day Four: Turning Gold Cup Day Green

Cheltenham Festival Day Four: Turning Gold Cup Day Green

Excellent as the opening three days of the Cheltenham Festival are, the best is saved until last, as a field of the finest chasers on the planet lock horns in the legendary Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The £625,000 Staying Chase marvel is the clear headline act but is just one of seven outstanding contests. We suspect the Irish may already have the Prestbury Park Cup wrapped up by the time the runners set off in the opening Triumph Hurdle, but if not, they should seal the deal on a strong card for the raiding party. Sticking with our strategy of attempting to make a profit by backing all things Irish, here, using analysis presented by, we present our top selections in each of the seven contests on this fabulous Friday card.

Friday 1:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle

In the absence of Constitution Hill, the biggest threat to Irish dominance comes in this contest, with the impressive Nicky Henderson representative Sir Gino out on his own at the head of the market. Nevertheless, the Irish trainers aren’t running scared, with Willie Mullins holding seven entries at the time of writing.

It is to the Mullins yard to which we turn for our selection. Salvator Mundi falls into the could be anything category but lost out to Sir Gino when the pair clashed in France. As such, the vote goes to the extremely highly regarded Majborough. Running a nice race when third on his return from a 307-day break in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, he should improve for that and can go close. Kargese won that Spring Juvenile Hurdle and ought to go well, but the each-way value may lie with the improving Ethical Diamond, who powered home once the penny dropped and looks the type to go well up the hill.

  • Top Tip - Majborough @ 9/2 with BetMGM
  • Next Best - Ethical Diamond @ 9/2 with BetUK

Friday 2:10 – BetMGM County Handicap Hurdle

Gordon Elliott missed out in this last year when saddling Pied Piper to finish second, but he may go one better in 2024. Touted as a potential Supreme Novices’ Hurdle candidate earlier in the season, King Of Kingsfield looks set to line up in this theoretically easier handicap event. Twice placed in Grade 1 company this term, the drying ground towards the back end of the week will be in his favour, and he may prove tough to reel in.

Last year's runner-up, Pied Piper, is handicapped to go well again, but the each-way vote goes to the Willie Mullins-trained Zenta. Making only her sixth hurdles start and second in a handicap here, she ran well to finish third in the Triumph Hurdle last year before landing the Grade 1 juvenile event at Aintree. Getting in off a mark of 140, she makes plenty of appeal at a double-figure price.

  • Top Tip - King Of Kingsfield @ 6/1 with LiveScoreBet
  • Next Best - Zenta @ 14/1 with BetMGM

Friday 2:50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

This isn’t a bad race for the hosts, with Gidleigh Park and Shanagh Bob boasting live claims. Nevertheless, it is that man Willie Mullins who holds the strongest hand. Readin Tommy Wrong, Dancing City, and High Class Hero all have sound claims, but it is the first named who will carry our cash. Heading to Cheltenham seeking a fifth win on the spin, he bagged a first Grade 1 at Naas last time and looks the sort to be ideally suited by this step up in trip.

Dancing City and High Class Hero both make the shortlist, whilst Gordon Eliott’s Stellar Story is surely better than he showed at the Dublin Racing Festival. However, at a big price, the one we like is the unexposed Chigorin from the Henry De Bromhead operation. Raced only three times, he improved massively when stepped up to this trip for the first time at Fairyhouse. He looked to have plenty left in the tank that day, and that proven stamina could take him into the places at least.

  • Top Tip - Readin Tommy Wrong @ 9/2 with BetUK
  • Next Best - Chigorin @ 33/1 with BetMGM

Friday 3:30 – Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

And so, to the big one. Nicky Henderson’s Shiskin and 2023 runner-up Bravemansgame head the home team, but the Irish have won this in each of the past five years and are favourites to make it six in a row. Leading the charge is the highest-rated chaser in training, Galopin Des Champs. Seven lengths too good for the field twelve months ago - when given a masterful Paul Townend ride - he has reaffirmed his superiority in the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup and is hard to oppose.

Of the others, second favourite Fastorslow came up short at the last two festivals, Gerri Colombe was put firmly in his place by the market leader in the Savills Chase, and Hewick looked to be tiring when falling two from home in 2023 – suggesting this trip may be just beyond his optimum. Gentlemansgame is tempting on the back of a light campaign, but preference is for the two-time Cheltenham Festival winner Monkfish, who suggested he may be ready to rediscover his old sparkle when scoring at Gowran Park in January.

  • Top Tip - Galopin Des Champs @ 5/4 with BetGoodwin
  • Next Best - Monkfish @ 25/1 with LiveScoreBet

Friday 4:10 – St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

The Emmett Mullins and Des Christie duo of Its On The Line and Ferns Lock dominate the market in this contest over the Gold Cup course and distance. The pair clashed at Down Royal in December, with Its On The Line getting up almost on the line to prevail. Ferns Lock is 7lb better off here but is yet to prove he stays this far. Its On The Line looks the one to be on, having finished like an express train to grab second in the 2023 edition. With that experience under his belt, he can go one better.

Ferns Lock and 2022 winner Billaway are the standout alternatives, but at a bigger price, it may be worth taking a chance on the 12-year-old Samcro. The apple of Gordon Elliott’s eye at one stage, this Gigginstown House Stud runner appears to have been revived by the Point to Point scene and has solid Cheltenham form to call upon, having won the Ballymore Novices Hurdle in 2018 and Marsh Novices’ Chase in 2020.

  • Top Tip - Its On The Line @ 9/4 with BetUK
  • Next Best - Samcro @ 14/1 with BetMGM

Friday 4:50 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase

This event for the mares sees another warm favourite from the Willie Mullins yard in the shape of Dinoblue. She’s all the rage in the market, but failed to get to within six lengths of the winner in two previous festival appearances and never threatened in her only outing over this trip. We won’t be straying far for our selection, with Dinoblue’s stablemate Allegorie De Vassy boasting eye-catching claims. Second in the 2023 running of this, she’s won three times over this distance or further and arrives in form.

Aside from Dinoblue, the biggest dangers may emerge from the yard of Gavin Cromwell. Limerick Lace and Brides Hill bring strong form to the table, but the predicted drying ground is likely to favour the latter of the two. Unbeaten in three this season, Brides Hill can hit the frame.

  • Top Tip - Allegorie De Vassy @ 4/1 with BetUK
  • Next Best - Brides Hill @ 8/1 with BetGoodwin

Friday 5:30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Hailing from the yard of Willie Mullins, who has won this three times in the past ten years, unbeaten in two starts this season, and the subject of a flood of money leading up to the race, it may pay to take the hint and side with the ex-French Quai De Bourbon. He needs to step up on what he has done to date, but couldn’t be in better hands and arrives stacked with potential.

If Gordon Elliott doesn’t win the finale, it won't be for the want of trying, with the County Meath trainer responsible for no fewer than 16 of the current entries. Sifting through that list is no straightforward task, with several runners holding multiple entries, but the one to stand out at a nice each-way price is Yeats Star. A winner over 2m, he finished strongly over 3m last time out at Leopardstown and may possess the ideal mix of speed and stamina for this test.

  • Top Tip - Quai De Bourbon @ 7/2 with LiveScoreBet
  • Next Best - Yeats Star @ 20/1 with BetMGM

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