Cheltenham Festival Day Two: The Luck of the Irish

Cheltenham Festival Day Two: The Luck of the Irish

Moving on to Day 2 at the Cheltenham Festival, there’s a strong chance that the British trainers will already be playing catchup in the race for the Prestbury Cup.

Will the hosts fare any better on Day 2? Possibly, but probably not. Ireland landed five of the seven events on the second day last season and look well positioned to at least equal that tally in 2024. In keeping with our approach to the opening day, we will focus solely on those runners making the trip across the Irish Sea when making our selections. Putting our green hats on once more, here, using analysis presented by, we present our top selections in each of the seven contests on another sizzling card.

Wednesday 1:30 - Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle

With under a week to go until the action begins, it remains unclear whether Ballyburn will line up in this event or the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the opening day. However, such is his reputation headed into the event – a reputation backed up by the form book – that it makes sense to have him onside wherever he shows up. He’s the clear favourite as Willie Mullins bids to land the prize for the third year in a row.

The main threat to Ballyburn may come from within his own yard, as the six-year-old Ile Atlantique looks the ideal type for this challenge. Never outside the first three in three hurdles outings, he ran a cracker when second in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle last time out, when only run down close home by the strong staying Readin Tommy Wrong.

  • Top Tip - Ballyburn @ 4/5 with BetUK
  • Next Best - Ile Atlantique @ 9/2 with BetGoodwin

Wednesday 2:10 – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

From one red-hot Willie Mullins trained favourite to another, with the JP McManus-owned Fact To File the standout Irish challenger in this event. This seven-year-old will find this more challenging than the two-runner Grade 1 he landed at Leopardstown in February but caught the eye with his slick fencing, has posted impressive time figures, and is spoken of in glowing terms by his trainer.

Few of those available at bigger prices stand out, leaving a choice between Gaelic Warrior and Monty’s Pass as the most likely challenger. Gaelic Warrior is talented but has his quirks, which sways us towards the fast-improving Monty’s Pass. This Henry De Bromhead runner has enjoyed a smooth preparation, is by one of the top sires in Walk In The Park, and arrives on the back of a career-best effort at Punchestown.

  • Top Tip - Fact To File @ 10/11 with BetUK
  • Next Best - Monty’s Star @ 11/2 with BetMGM

Wednesday 2:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

Sticking with Willie Mullins, the recent form of Sa Majeste makes him one of the standout contenders for this race and the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys event on the closing day. Last time out, this recent recruit from France comfortably accounted for Noble Yeats, who franked that form in no uncertain terms when landing the Grade 1 Cleeve Hurdle on his next outing. On that evidence, a mark of 140 may prove lenient.

Those seeking an each-way selection may wish to consider Yeats Star from the yard of Gordon Elliott. Elliott has landed this twice in the past eight years and looks to have another likely sort on his hands with this son of flat star Yeats. Unlucky in running when third at Leopardstown last time out, he’s a strong stayer at this trip and is attractively priced to hit the frame.

  • Top Tip - Sa Majeste @ 5/1 with LiveScoreBet
  • Next Best - Yeats Star @ 25/1 with Spreadex

Wednesday 3:30 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

No prizes for originality in the feature event, but it is hard to see beyond the mighty El Fabiolo. Hugely impressive when claiming the scalp of Jonbon in last year's Arkle Chase, he has since added two further Grade 1 events to his haul and arrives on a seven-race unbeaten streak. Barring a mishap at one of the fences, he should prove very hard to beat.

The 2020 Champion Bumper winner, Ferny Hollow, is an intriguing contender from the Mullins yard but, following over two years on the sidelines, this may come a little soon after his winning return at Naas. He’s one to bear in mind if lining up on the day, but at a bigger price, we will side with 2023 runner-up Captain Guinness from the Henry De Bromhead operation. This one has had his issues since but took a step back in the right direction when third in the Dublin Chase and may be ready to peak on the big day.

  • Top Tip - El Fabiolo @ 4/9 with LiveScoreBet
  • Next Best - Captain Guinness @ 16/1 with BetUK

Wednesday 4:10 – Glenfarclas Chase

There are a number of classy sorts in this event, but none more so than 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo. Hailing from the yard of Henry De Bromhead, he isn’t quite the force of old at eleven years of age but ran a cracker on his first cross-country experience at this track in December and will be much better off at the weights under these conditions. De Bromhead can be trusted to have him at his peak, and he shouldn't be far away.

A trio of Gordon Elliott runners come next in the betting. Galvin and Coko Beach have plenty to recommend them, but Delta Work boasts the strongest claims. The winner of this in 2022 and 2023, he has enjoyed a similar prep as 12 months ago and can go close to making it three in a row.

  • Top Tip - Minella Indo @ 15/8 with LiveScoreBet
  • Next Best - Delta Work @ 3/1 with BetMGM

Wednesday 4:50 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

My Mate Mozzie and Saint Roi are used to plying their trade at a higher level than this and duly head the betting. There’s a lot to like about both, but with My Mate Mozzie possibly being aimed at the Arkle, we will side with Saint Roi. A strong finisher at this trip, the fierce gallop ought to suit, and he can make his class tell in the closing stages.

Further down the list, don’t be surprised to see last year's winner Maskada put up a bold defence of her crown. The Henry De Bromhead-trained eight-year-old is 8lb higher this year but slammed the talented Dinoblue by 6½l twelve months ago. If in the same form here, she will be tough to keep out of the frame.

  • Top Tip - Saint Roi @ 7/1 with BetGoodwin
  • Next Best - Maskada @ 20/1 with Spreadex

Wednesday 5:30 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Last but not least, the only flat contest of the meeting and a race landed by the Irish at the last seven Cheltenham Festivals. Given the strength of the Irish representation this year – Willie Mullins alone has 14 currently entered – it will be a surprise if that winning sequence doesn't extend to eight.

There are no shortage of live contenders here, with the majority of the field having won last time out. However, the one to have impressed us most is the Gordon Elliott-trained Jalon D’oudairies. We loved the way he moved through the gears to score at Leopardstown, and with the prospect of more to come, he looks a worthy favourite. Of the Willie Mullins contenders, Fleur Au Fusil has a perfect two from two record, including a silky-smooth Grade 2 success, and looks excellent each-way value.

  • Top Tip - Jalon D’oudairies @ 6/1 with BetMGM
  • Next Best - Fleur Au Fusil @ 20/1 with BetUK

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