Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day One Betting Tips
You’ll hear the first roar of the week on Tuesday 14th March, with day one boasting no less than four Grade 1 races, including the biggest hurdling event in the National Hunt calendar: the Champion Hurdle.
Below we break down each of the seven opening day races, with the goal of helping you profit from betting on the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.
Day One Races – Champions Day (Tuesday 14th March)
|Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
|Arkle Challenge Trophy
|Ultima Handicap Chase
|Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
|National Hunt Challenge Cup
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The 2 miles and ½ a furlong opener is a firm favourite with punters, all looking to get off to a flying start. In fact, bookmakers are already experiencing an influx of money from excited punters betting on the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.
All eyes are on Facile Vega in the traditional Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser. Trainer Willie Mullins retains full faith in the six-year-old despite him flopping at the Dublin Racing Festival. Prior to the shock defeat, Facile Vega had been unbeaten in six races, which included four flat races and two over hurdles.
Despite losing as an odds-on favourite, many punters are backing Facile Vega to come good on the big stage because Mullins has trained the winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle a record seven times.
That said, there are other strong candidates you might want to keep your eye out for. The latest Supreme Novices’ Hurdle betting odds suggest Tahmuras, trained by Paul Nicholls, is another good shout for the neck-breaking competition.
SBO Prediction: Facile Vega to win (7/2 at bet365)
Arkle Challenge Trophy
As with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, there is no frontrunner for Cheltenham’s opening chase race, commonly referred to as “The Arkle”.
Last year, Edwardstone, ridden by Tom Cannon, cemented his name in the history books by finishing four lengths clear of eventual runner-up Gabynako.
According to the latest Arkle Challenge Trophy betting odds, Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon is one of the frontrunners. The seven-year-old finished second in last year’s Supreme Novices Hurdle, has been in brilliant form of late, and many racing experts are tipping him to win the Arkle Challenge trophy. That said, Willie Mullins-trained entries such as Appreciate It, Melon, and Dysart Dynamo are also in contention.
We are backing Petit Mouchoir, the 11-year-old trained by Henry de Bromhead. As you may already know, de Bromhead has won the Arkle Challenge Trophy on five of the last 13 occasions.
SBO Prediction: Petit Mouchoir to win (12/1 at 888sport)
Ultima Handicap Chase
With such a large field, it’s no surprise that the Ultima Handicap Chase betting market is wide open. However, many previous winners of the Ultima Handicap Chase have been frontrunners – it’s not a complete lottery.
In 2013’s showdown, for example, Corach Rambler became the third horse in the last four years to bag the race after coming into the race with double-digit winning odds. This proves that no runner can be ignored when looking at Ultima Handicap Chase betting tips. Thus, this race is usually a wide-open affair, and the ante-post odds suggest this year will be no different.
Some of the names to look out for include Paul Nicholls’ Threeunderthrufive. Remastered is another one to keep an eye out for, having won two out of the three races he has been involved in this season. Indigo Breeze could also potentially carry the day, having gone close in all three races over the fences so far. It will be interesting to see how things pan out, though, considering Indigo Breeze has not competed outside of Ireland.
We see Imperial Alcazar winning this time around. Trained by Fergal O’Brien, Imperial Alcazar has two wins, and a runner-up finish under its belt at the Cheltenham Racecourse, and we expect him to add the 2023 Ultima Handicap Chase to its list of accolades.
SBO Prediction: Imperial Alcazar to win (10/1 at BetUK)
Fourteen horses are set to compete in this year’s Champion Hurdle, with Constitutional Hill priced as the odds-on favourite to claim victory. He is last year’s runaway Supreme Novices Hurdle winner and was unbeaten in five races during 2022.
Willie Mullin’s trained State Man, who is likely to be Constitutional Hill’s main rival for the Champion Hurdle throne, could be worth a punt in the betting without Constitutional Hill market. Having won the Irish Champion Hurdle by four and three-quarter lengths, it is easy to see why State Man has been hyped as a serious contender.
On the chance that the big two don’t meet expectations, you can always take a punt on on Vauban, who boasts of a third-place finish in Leopardstown and had a good run in Ireland.
SBO Prediction: Constitutional Hill to win (2/7 at 888sport)
The Mares’ Hurdle Cheltenham is synonymous with six-time winner Quevega, but there are several contenders looking to build their own legacy.
The Mares Hurdle presents an opportunity for the bigwigs to strut their stuff on the opening day of the Cheltenham festival. Willie Mullins, who has dominated the race for eight years, will be one to look out for, although the last three instalments have seen him settling for the runner-up position.
Mullins’ Brandy Love has attracted the attention of the bookies, who are pitting her as one of their favourites based on the latest Mares Hurdle betting odds. Nonetheless, while he is the defending champion of the Mares Novice Hurdle, it is worth noting that he has not competed this season.
For us, Honeysuckle is the frontrunner in the race, and we predict that the 2020 winner will be first past the once more. Marie’s Rock is also one to watch on the back of noteworthy performances in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham.
While the air of invincibility around Honeysuckle has slightly waned after her first loss in 16 races in December at the Fairyhouse, we expect a stellar performance in this year’s race. Mind you, she was withdrawn from the Champion Hurdle to focus on this particular race. So, even with Brandy Love as the defending champion, you can never rule out a good old upset, right?
SBO Prediction: Honeysuckle to win (9/4 at bet365)
Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Previously known as the Fred Winter Hurdle, the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle is a handicap event for four-year-old novice hurdlers, on two miles and 110 yards. Last year’s race was won by Brazil, ridden by Mark Walsh for trainer Padraig Roche.
From a betting perspective, this year’s Juvenile Handicap Hurdle is a tough nut to crack, to say the least. There are no clear favourites, but we have a few Juvenile Handicap Hurdle betting tips for you to consider.
Willie Mullin’s name comes up again in the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle betting odds, with Tekao being touted to do well by the bookies, having won his last race in December. However, if we are talking about Tekao being a contender, then we must also mention Comfort Zone, who beat Tekao in the Bar One Racing 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle at Navan back in November.
Another Willie Mullin protege Gala Marceau is also a decent shout alongside Common Practice, trained by Joseph O’Brien.
SBO Prediction: Comfort Zone to win (10/1 at BetUK)
National Hunt Challenge Cup
Run over three miles and six furlongs, the National Hunt Challenge Cup is all about stamina. The race has been dominated by Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins over the last decade, with the Irish trainers facing off year after year. Thus, our National Hunt Challenge Cup betting tips will, of course, be focused on the two thoroughbred training juggernauts.
Trained by Mullins, Gaillard Du Mesnil is the clear-cut favourite to bring home the National Hunt Challenge Cup. The dual Grade 1 winning novice hurdler has seized victory twice at Leopardstown, with other notable performances including a third-place finish at the Dublin Racing Festival and a third-place finish in the Brown Advisory Novices Chase last year.
There is also the outside chance that yet another Mullins’ protege, Ramillies, may walk away with the National Hunt Challenge Cup having won on chasing debut at Thurles, where he came in ahead of Tenzing. Therefore, Amirite is another progressive profile you should keep an eye out for in the expansive field if you want to spread your risks with the National Hunt Challenge Cup betting odds.
SBO Prediction: Gaillard Du Mesnil to win (6/4 at 888sport)
Day One Betting Tips Summary
|Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
|Arkle Novices’ Chase
|Ultima Handicap Chase
|Novices’ Handicap Chase
|National Hunt Challenge Cup
|Gaillard Du Mesnil
Note – all odds correct at time of publishing but are subject to change. Please join one of our recommended betting sites to view the latest Cheltenham betting odds.