Daniel Hussey - Cheltenham Day 1 Tips & Preview

12 min

Matchbook’s Daniel Hussey will be here each day of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival with his final tips and selections.

The best four days of the year are here. Tomorrow, we will hear that famous Cheltenham Roar as the tapes go up in the Supreme. What a time to be alive.

Outside the main trainers, I’m hopeful Henry De Bromhead and Gavin Cromwell will have a big week. They always seem to have their horses running career bests at the Festival.

Below are my thoughts for the opening day, with the ground set to be Soft after overnight rain.

Best of luck for the week, and please gamble responsibly!

13:30 Cheltenham – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

A race dominated in the ante-post markets by Ballyburn now looks wide-open, with the Willie Mullins-trained novice going for tomorrow’s Gallagher Novice Hurdle instead.

That leaves the door open for Slade Steel. He has form with Ballyburn over 2 miles at the Dublin Racing Festival, although admittedly a well-beaten second. However, as mentioned above, Henry De Bromhead’s horses are often primed for this Festival, so I expect him to come on a lot for that run. He’s 6.1 on the Matchbook Betting Exchange at the time of writing and worth a play.

The other horse I can’t let go unbacked is Tullyhill. He ran a great race from the front in his last start at Punchestown and, by all accounts, has been working well since. His jumping would be the obvious concern here but I don’t expect there to be too much pressure for the lead, meaning Paul Townend can dictate the pace.

Selection: Slade Steel 6.1 & Tullyhill 4.15

14:10 Cheltenham – Arkle Chase

I’ve been tinkering with this race all season but have finally settled on two horses at decent prices.

The first is Hunters Yarn, who comes here quite unexposed over fences. After falling when clear at the final fence on his chase debut, I thought he was impressive when beating Path D’oroux at Fairyhouse last time. I expect him to improve again and at 6.8, he represents value.

The second horse is My Mate Mozzie, who was the ante-post favourite for the Grand Annual before connections decided to run here. He ran against two of these horses at Christmas (Il Etait Temps and Found A Fifty) and, despite getting a quiet ride out the back, was looming large wide after the last and looked the winner halfway up the run-in.

With a Spring handicap in mind initially, I’d suspect Gavin Cromwell has left a lot to work on for this, so I expect him to come late with a challenge.

Selection: Hunters Yarn 6.8 & My Mate Mozzie 13.0

14:50 Cheltenham – Ultima Handicap Chase

This race tends to favour those at the top of the market, and I’m expecting no different this time.

The Goffer represents last year’s renewal (which saw Corach Rambler and Fastorslow battle it out), and that is red-hot form. There are concerns he didn’t stay the trip fully last year, but I think being another year older will help in that regard. Under a more patient ride, I can see him in the mix again.

Kim Bailey runs two here, and while Chianti Classico has an obvious chance, I’m siding with his other horse, Trelawne. He is crying out for a trip and will go well on soft ground. Picking up Harry Cobden as a spare jockey only adds to his chances.

Selection: The Goffer 8.0 & Trelawne 10.0

15:30 Cheltenham – Champion Hurdle

State Man should take the world of beating, but Iberico Lord interests me in the without favourite market at around 4.0 on Matchbook.

That Betfair Hurdle looks like an above-average renewal, and Nicky Henderson’s horse was ultimately a very easy winner. They were forced to supplement him here after Consitution Hill’s withdrawal. Still, despite concerns over his stable form – watch how Jeriko Du Reponet goes in the Supreme – I’m hopeful he can follow the favourite home.

Selection: Iberico Lord 4.0 w/o fav

16:10 Cheltenham – Mares Hurdle

Lossiemouth should see Willie Mullins land a quick-fire double (could be on a five-timer, who knows??). There are obvious concerns about the trip, but the Closutton team are confident this isn’t an issue, even planning on running her in the French Champion Hurdle (run over 3 miles) later this year.

If you’re looking for one in the without market, I’m going with Telmesomethinggirl for Henry De Bromhead. This mare was running a cracker in this race three years ago before falling, but it hasn’t been plain sailing since. A poor enough chase career has seen her belatedly return to hurdles this season. But, with Henry’s horses tending to come on for their run before Cheltenham, I think she’ll run a big race.

Selection: Telmesomethinggirl 8.5 w/o fav

16:50 Cheltenham – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

This race tends to go to one at a big price, so don’t be afraid to have a couple of swings down the bottom of the market.

Ose Partir is a horse I’ve had in mind for this race and I still think he represents value at 16.0. Martin Brassil is a fantastic target trainer and this horse has had a couple of quiet runs in graded races. Off a mark of 126, I think he could be well-handicapped.

The runners from the 2m 4-y-o Naas novice hurdle in February have a great record in this race, so there is plenty to take out of it. I’ve gone with Nara, who ultimately was a disappointing fourth. Again, I expect the horse will come on for the run so 16.0 looks like decent value.

Bright Legend was another eyecatcher to take out of that race and did interest me at 33s+ in this. That price has since gone into 21.0, so happy to leave it for now and maybe back him late on Matchbook.

Selection: Ose Partir 16.0 & Nara 16.0

17:30 Cheltenham – National Hunt Chase

I’ve flipped-flopped a lot on this race this season, and now I think I’m ultimately against the top two in the market. On ratings, the top two look well-clear of this field, but with questions about Corbetts Cross’ jumping and Embassy Garden in a battle, and both of them at this trip, I’ve landed on an outsider.

Kilbeg King looks well-suited to a marathon trip. While this race can be run at a crawl, I’m hopeful Mr Vango and possibly Apple Away can ensure an end-to-end gallop for at least most of the race. If that’s the case, it should be set up for one of the closers, and I think Anthony Honeyball’s horse is the one that is currently overpriced.

I don’t think he ran a bad race behind Il Est Francais at Christmas and he followed that up with a close second in the Reynoldstown. The extra trip here should eke out a small bit of improvement and I like him in the win and place markets.

Selection: Kilbeg King 12.0

Cheltenham Day 1 Final Selections:

  • 13:30 Slade Steel 6.1 & Tullyhill 4.15
  • 14:10 Hunters Yarn 6.8 & My Mate Mozzie 13.0
  • 14:50 The Goffer 8.0 & Trelawne 10.0
  • 15:30 Iberico Lord 4.0 w/o fav
  • 16:10 Telmesomethinggirl 8.5 w/o fav
  • 16:50 Ose Partir 16.0 & Nara 16.0
  • 17:30 Kilbeg King 12.0

Win/Place Double: Slade Steel & The Goffer

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