Best Cheltenham Festival Ante Post Picks


Lossiemouth racehorse


With less than a month to go, the countdown to the 2024 edition of the Cheltenham Festival is well and truly on - only 25 more sleeps until we wake up to the four-day punting party. Now is the time to begin letting fly with an ante-post bet or two, and this year, we are kicking off with a solid-looking treble, which will hopefully add to the excitement and profit of the magical meeting.

When seeking a selection of good things to populate our bet, the most obvious place to look is in the direction of the Closutton yard of Willie Mullins. The Cheltenham Festival inevitably features a surprise or two, but it seems incredibly likely that Mullins will enter the Winner's Enclosure on numerous occasions. Our task is to select which three runners from the Mullins squadron are most likely to prevail. Without further ado, we present our prospective trio of Irish heroes ahead of Cheltenham 2024.

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, Tuesday 12 March – Lossiemouth

With nine wins in 16 editions since the 2008 debut of this race, Willie Mullins has been the dominant force in this Grade 1 affair for the mares. He is, however, without a win since 2018, but it would be a surprise were he not to make it into double figures this year. Six of the current 20-runner field hail from the Mullins operation – four of whom occupy the top four positions in the market.

Gala Marceau, Echoes In Rain, and Ashroe Diamond should be in the mix, but the one they all have to beat is the five-year-old Lossiemouth. Beaten just once in seven career starts - when an unlucky in running second in the 2023 Spring Juvenile Hurdle - she rebounded from that effort to win the 2023 Triumph Hurdle in style. So good was her performance when slamming the talented Love Envoi on her seasonal return that some were putting her name forward for a tilt at the Champion Hurdle. That temptation has wisely been resisted, at least for now, but she looks well up to taking this. At 4/6 with Betfred, she is priced accordingly but can kick off our treble on the opening day.

Queen Mother Champion Chase, Wednesday 13 March – El Fabiolo

Prior to 2022, Willie Mullins was without a win in the Day 2 feature. Following the back-to-back successes of Energumene, he heads into this year's meeting bidding to land the hat trick. Energumene misses out through injury, but the Cheltenham maestro has a more than able deputy in the shape of the Simon Munir & Isaac Souede-owned El Fabiolo. One of the big talking horses headed into last year's meeting, the son of Spanish Moon emphatically delivered on the hype, when burning through the gears late on to power 5½l clear of Jonbon in the Arkle Chase.

Jonbon has another crack this year but is zero from two against his rival, whilst third favourite Edwardstone was nearer last than first in the 2023 edition of this. Of the others, Captain Guinness chased Energumene home last year but didn’t see which way El Fabiolo went in the Dublin Chase at the beginning of February. Barring a mishap, this striking individual should outclass these, with the 1/2 available with Betfred being a fair representation of his chances.

Cheltenham Gold Cup, Friday 15 March – Galopin Des Champs

Last (but not least) is the reigning king of the Cheltenham Hill – defending Gold Cup champ, Galopin Des Champs. Magnificent when powering clear of Bravemansgame to land the 2023 edition by seven lengths, he then twice tasted defeat at the hands of the Martin Brassil-trained Fastorslow - leading some to question his credentials this time around.

As all good horses do, Galopin Des Champs has since silenced his critics, with his victory in the Savill’s Chase representing the finest staying chase performance of the season to date, followed up by a comfortable verdict over old nemesis Fastorslow in the Irish Gold Cup.

Fastorslow remains his main market rival but has come up short in a Coral Cup and Ultima Handicap Chase in two previous Festival appearances. In contrast, Galopin Des Champs has won the Martin Pipe Hurdle, was cruising to victory in the 2022 Turners Novices’ Chase only to fall at the last and won this 12 months ago. Gerri Colombe may prove a threat but has 23 lengths to find from that Savills Chase run, whilst Shiskin and L’Homme Presse must prove they stay this far. Galopin Des Champs is the top-rated chaser in training for good reason and tough to oppose at a track that suits him so well. One of the few firms offering odds against, Betfred can expect their 11/10 to attract plenty of business.

A £10 Treble on the above three runners returns £52.50 with Betfred.


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