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Cheltenham Festival Review And Future Winners

Hi all,

Inside today’s and apologies in advance LONG main piece, you can read my thoughts on last week’s Cheltenham Festival and there are few eyecatchers. Plus, I preview today’s Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Chase Final at Navan.

A tough but fantastic Cheltenham Festival is done and dusted for another 12 months. Just another 358 days until start of the 2024 Festival.

I was pleased to have made a nice profit for the many of you who joined the Victor Value service for Cheltenham week.

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I was happy with my previews, and I hope those who received them were happy to. They take a lot of writing, but I don’t mind doing them for big meetings like Cheltenham and Royal Ascot.

There was only that got away over the four days and that was Seddon but I can live with it. After two losing Cheltenham’s it was just nice to end in front.

Cheltenham Festival Review

Tuesday was special thanks to a monster performance from Constitution Hill to win the Champion Hurdle and Honeysuckle ending her career on a winning note in the Mares Hurdle. Connections were vindicated in their decision to swerve the Champion Hurdle and racegoers got to give the mare a good send off.

The next two days where never going to be able to match Tuesday that, but they provided some great finishes and high class performances. Most notably Impaire Et Passe in the Ballymore who stamped himself a serious Champion Hurdle contender. And there was Energumene’s second Champion Chase success.

On Course Profits free Horse Racing magazine

On Friday – Lossiemouth showed how unlucky she was at the Dublin Racing Festival by reversing places with Gala Marceau to win the Triumph Hurdle.  And Paul Nicholls gained a second Grade 1 win at this year’s Festival when Stay Away Fay held off two outsiders to win the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle.

The ride of the week for me was Michael O’Sullivan’s ride on Marine National to win the Supreme. He couldn’t claim his 3lb allowance in the race, but he still produced a ride full of confidence that belied his relative inexperience. Michael O’Sullivan is going to the top of the jockey ranks provided he can stay clear of serious injuries.

Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup

Before I look back at Friday’s Gold Cup. It’s worth noting a real discrepancy when it came to the going on Gold Cup Day. No way was it soft at Cheltenham on Friday. The New Course does seem to drain quickly and looking at the times I think it was good to soft, good in places in particularly the chase course. In fact you can argue it was closer to good,, good to soft in places.

We might be in the 21st Century but the sport is still relying on someone shoving a stick in the turf to provide going reports. The going is arguably one of the biggest factors when analysing a race from a betting perspective, but we have ended up guessing.

The ground is one of the biggest factors when assessing a race for betting purposes, yet as punters we’ve been guessing all week as to the going. It’s an unacceptable state of affairs and I’m not talking out of my pocket either.

There was a sell-out crowd for Gold Cup Day, and they got to see the best Gold Cup winner since Kauto Star in 2007.

The Gold Cup is the jewel in the National Hunt crown, the very pinnacle of the sport. The contest deserves a classic race and winning performance, and it got both this year.

Before the race all eyes were on favourite Galopin Des Champs to provide the sport with a ‘wow’ performance and the 7-year-old didn’t let us down.

Galopin Superstar

Ahoy Senor took the field along at a brisk gallop. His jumping was good, but his only mistake saw him fall at the 17th.  That left the likeable Hewick in front, but he was headed by Bravemansgame coming to two out and took a heavy fall at that fence.

Bravemansgame was in front coming to the last. However, he was headed by the strong travelling Galopin Des Champs.  A good jump at the last and it was race was over. All that was left was for the winner to power up the hill and put 7l between himself and Bravemansgame.

It was the race of this year’s festival without a doubt and produced a great winner.

Galopin Des Champs is a superstar chaser with age on his side. Who if he keeps sound could come back and win another two Gold Cups. Mind you he could face a certain Constitution Hill in 2025. 

The runner-up went down on his shield but he was beaten by a stronger stayer. In a normal year he would have run out a comfortable winner himself.

How the rest fared

The third home Conflated ran a cracker to finish 6 ½ lengths behind Bravemansgame. His stamina is stretched by the trip. However, he would have finished closer to the runner-up with a clearer run two out.

Noble Yeats took fourth the close home from a weakening Protektorat. He’s a strong stayer but wasn’t quick enough to match those who finished in front of him. It was a good trial for his bid for back to back Grand National’s, but you must wonder how hard a race he had.

Protektorat was back to his best in fifth but a strongly run 3m 2f is to far for the 8-year-old. He can win more Grade 1’s back over a bit shorter.

Ahoy Senor was still going well out in front when he came down. I doubt he would have beaten the winner, but he would have finished in the money.

A Plus Tard was hampered by the fall of Ahoy Senor. He was very much still in contention at the time, but it was race over at that point. I doubt he would have retained his Gold Cup crown but he could have made the places.

Sounds Russian was set to run a career best when brought down by Ahoy Senor. Hewick ran well on ground that would have been plenty soft enough. He took a heavy fall and I feared for him at the time, but he was fine. 

Royale Pagaille (6th) and Eldorado Allen (7th) never got into the race. Neither are good enough in this company.

The real stayers Stattler and Minella Indo couldn’t go with the early gallop on quicker ground than described and were soon struggling out the back.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Verdict:

A vintage Gold Cup brought down the curtain on what was a sensational four days of racing at Prestbury Park. It was one of the best fields assembled for the race in recent memory. The winner and the runner-up are both high class chasers.

It’s a long time since we have seen a Gold Cup winner with an engine like Galopin Des Champs. To win, going away, from his position having not been foot perfect at all his fences is testament to that.

As for Bravemansgame we would have been saying what a great winner of the race he was if the real Galopin Des Champs hadn’t have shown up.

It will be interesting to see how hard a race the participants had. Hopefully some big performances won’t have left their mark.  

Cheltenham Eyecatchers:

It wouldn’t be a Cheltenham Festival without an eyecatcher or two. Plenty of people will have put two of my eyecatchers in their trackers but hopefully not the other three.

The first four of my tracker horses ran in handicaps but the first of them ran in the first race of the meeting.


The prospect of soft ground meant connections were tempted to run the 6-year-old in the Supreme rather than the Ballymore. He ran a career best when a 6 length 4th of 14 to Marine National. Ultimately, he lacked the pace to go with the winner or runner-up Facile Vega. Still, it was a good performance with the future. He’s got the scope to make up into a high class novice chaser next season stepped up to 2m 4f. Next year’s Turners Novices’ Chase would be an ideal target for him next season, if he takes to the larger obstacles.


Afadil bounced back from a poor run at Haydock with an eyecatching 5 ½ length 8th of 21 to Jazzy Matty in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on Tuesday. He wasn’t well placed in a steadily run race but was doing his best work at the finish. Hopefully his performance might just have gone under the radar.


Fifth in last year’s Coral Cup got closer in this years race when a ½ length 3rd of 26 to Langer Dan. Sadly this might go down as a chance missed. He travelled like the best handicapped horse in the race, but jockey Aidan Coleman kicked on to early. If he has waited ½ furlong longer he would surely have prevailed. Last year the 7-year-old went onto win a valuable handicap hurdle at Punchestown and he will likely go back for that race or go to Aintree but he will be racing off a higher mark after this effort.

Walking On Air

Finished a 4 ¼ length 5th of 23 to Good Time Jonny in the Pertemps Final on Thursday. He didn’t get the best of passages two out and in the straight otherwise he would have finished closer. There could be a decent handicap hurdle pot in the 6-year-old before the season is out. Whatever happens this season he has the scope to do well over fences next season.

Famous Clermont

A winner of both Hunter Chases last month he came into the race the best of the home team in Friday’s Hunter Chase. He travelled as well as anything coming to two out but his stamina seemed to run out after the last and he eventually finished 6th of 23. He looks an ideal type for next month’s Aintree Foxhunters over shorter.

Life after Cheltenham

There’s still life in the jumps season after Cheltenham. Next month we have the Aintree Grand National Festival, The Scottish & Irish Grand National’s and the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, There’s also the little matter of the Punchestown Festival. That all said, we’re now less than two weeks away from the start of the new flat season at Doncaster and I’m kind of itching for it to begin. Oh, and the Irish Flat season gets underway at the Curragh on Saturday.

Monday Racing

Its Taunton and Southwell this afternoon but the meeting of the day is a rescheduled Navan card. The seven race card which had been postponed due to snow includes the Grade 2 Webster Cup Chase (3:25).  


Last year’s Grand National runner-up Any Second Now continues his preparation for Aintree in the Webster Cup a race he won in 2021. The most competitive race on the Navan card is the Grade B Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Chase Final (3:55). Twelve have been declared for the latter race. I can make a case for eight and may not even have pinpointed the winner like I did in Saturday's Midlands Grand National.

3:55 – Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Handicap Chase Final (Grade B) – 2m 7 ½ f

Thomas Gibney won this last year, and he saddles Must Be Obeyed. The mare won two of her first three starts over fences and wasn’t disgraced when 4th of 9 in a Grade 2 over C&D last time. No easy task under top weight on handicap debut though.

Shantreusse has just had the three starts over fences and got within 1 ½ lengths of Must Be Obeyed in a beginners chase at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve. Not as good over C&D last time. However, the first time cheekpieces have been applied, the yard is in better form now.

Flash De Touzaine was fourth in last year’s race also gets the first time cheekpieces. A good winner at Galway in October. He’s struggled in better company since but not ruled out if the headgear has the desired effect.

Slip Of The Tongue posted a career best on RPR’s when a 6 ¾ length 3rd of 16 at Gowran Park last month. The step up to 2m 4f seemed to suit last time but further in trip with stamina to prove. On the plus side Aidan Kelly takes off a handy 7lb and the 6-year-old could be capable of more progress.

Temptationinmilan, Galon De Vauzelle and Brampton Belle were the 1-2-3 in a C&D handicap chase last month. There shouldn’t much between them at the revised weights. However, if Brampton Belle can jump better, she could finish in front the other two this time.

Jody Ted was pulled up behind Must be Obeyed at Fairyhouse novice chase in January but has done better on his last two starts since switching to handicap company. Stays 2m 4f well but stamina for 3m has to be taken in trust. If he stays, he can go close.


The form of the Henry De Bromhead stable means both Shantreusse and Brampton Belle must be high on the shortlist. The former gets the first time cheekpieces which just swings it in his direction. Despite top weight Must Be Obeyed has to be seriously considered. Flash De Touzaine is another to get the first time cheekpieces and is interesting. There are stamina doubts concerning Slip Of The Tongue and Jody Ted but the latter has a decent pot in him of his present mark.  

Monday Selection:

Today’s tip is from Navan but not from the race I previewed.


4:25 – Know The Game, won a handicap chase at Naas in December and bounced back from a lesser performance at Down Royal (2m 4f) to finish a 12 lengths 4th of 10 at Fairyhouse last time.  He’s a probably a shade high in the handicap so the booking of 5lb conditional Ben Harvey could make all the difference.

Know The Game – 7/1 @ Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook.

There won’t be a Tuesday or Wednesday column this week. I’m due a break after last week’s intensity. However, I will be back on Thursday to look at the upcoming weekend’s action.

Good luck with your Monday bets.


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