16/1 and 25/1 chances for Cheltenham 2024
Those helped or hindered should the rain continue this week
A big thank you to all readers!
In this short final Cheltenham Festival Focus column this season, I wanted to highlight some horses that will be helped or hindered should the heavens open during the week with all this talk about the weather.
Also, I kicked myself last year for not offering up some early ante-post selections for the following year - I know, I know, let's get through this one first.
Who will any rain help or hinder on Day 1?
Supreme Novice Hurdle - Facile Vega: The one thing that has stuck in my mind about Facile Vega since the Dublin Racing Festival is his very pronounced high knee action. If you couple that with his excellent victory in the Champion Bumper last year in what can only be described as a swamp, he would surely benefit from a deluge, and his main market rival heads up the other list.
Ultima Handicap - Corach Rambler: Won this race last year on good to soft, but he stays longer than the mother-in-law and was a heavy ground winner as a Novice Hurdler. Soft ground will help him keep an early position in the race.
Mares Hurdle - Love Envoi: She has not been at the level on the clock this season, but she will relish the testing ground, and she is a likely market shortener. I will still be laying her, though.
National Hunt Chase - Mister Coffey: Is another that stays all day, and soft ground proved no boundary when finishing second in the Kim Muir last term. He has a touch of class about him. I like his chance W/O the favourite, particularly if the rain comes.
Supreme Novice Hurdle - Marine Nationale: Won the Royal Bond on soft ground, but his optimum conditions would be on the quicker side. It may not be detrimental to his chances, but it should ease confidence in backers.
Ultima Handicap - Into Overdrive: All his best work has come on a sound surface, and he was 14 lengths behind Corach Rambler in a Novice Hurdle on soft ground. He surely takes a walk in the market.
Champion Hurdle - I Like To Move It: Unbeaten on the ground, described as good or better, and he will need everything in his favour to land a blow in this. Any rain won't help.
National Hunt Chase - Chemical Energy: Was put away during the winter to avoid the soft ground. I can see those 66/1 slips from connections slowly crimpling if the rain comes.
*Others to note throughout the week
Gerri Colombe, Mighty Potter, Teahupoo, Three Card Brag, Energumene, Ahoy Senor, Protektorat.
Camprond, Champ Kiely, Gentleman De Mee, Galvin, Hiddenvalley Lake, Bravemansgame.
16/1 and 25/1 chances for Cheltenham 2024
Let's start with the would-be Novice Hurdlers (this year's bumper crop). Wednesday's Champion Bumper will ripple effect on the 2024 Supreme Novice Hurdle and Ballymore Hurdle markets.
Still, the poor record of Champion Bumper winners doubling up in the Supreme - cue Facile Vega blowing that stat apart - won't be considered, so I am reluctant to get involved, at least right now.
The best bumper horse of Willie Mullins could also be staying home in the form of Ballyburn. Given his pedigree is layered with stamina and he has a touch of class, his likely target next term would be the Ballymore 16/1 or the Albert Bartlett 25/1.
The latter interests me more, given his owner Ronnie Bartlett sponsors the race, so I am willing to take a chance and offer him up as a selection.
The Novice Chase department also appeals, given the crop of Novice Hurdlers in both Britain and Ireland this year has not been up to scratch. There is a real possibility that Constitution Hill goes over fences next year, and he is currently 5/1 for both the Arkle and the Turners, which will be long gone should he hose up in the Champion Hurdle next week.
However, knowing Nicky Henderson, he will surely target the Arkle as he has done in many a year with Novice Chasers, and that could make way for State Man 16/1 in the Turners picture. The price of 5/1 about anything a year in advance is not enough to entice me to lay out my cash - not even Constitution Hill.
Still, his defection in the Champion Hurdle may consider Willie Mullins to keep State Man in that division. However, Facile Vega looms, and the trainer has likened this horse to his mother, Quevega, who stayed over hurdles so it could be another year over the smaller obstacles for him, and there would only be one route.
State Man 16/1 appeals as a Turners proposition as after next week, Willie Mullins could be keen to avoid Constitution Hill for the second time, and he did win over a Grade 1 over 2m3f at Punchestown as a Novice. He is only six, and surely, connections will be eager to get him over a fence next year.
That's all for this year. A big thank you to Betfair for again running this column. A huge thank you to you for reading it and I wish you the best of luck for this weeks Cheltenham Festival 2023. Fingers crossed we are back next year, until then, be lucky!