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Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day-by-day antepost betting guide, tips and odds

Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day-by-day antepost betting guide, tips and odds
© Reuters
Ahead of the Cheltenham Festival later this month, Sports Mole suggests a number of tips ahead of one of the biggest events on the British sporting calendar.

We have reached the stage of the racing calendar where punters are beginning to consider their selections for the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place between March 12 and March 15.

The headline news thus far is whether Constitution Hill will run in the Champion Hurdle having been pulled up on what was supposed to be a routine gallop around the course on Tuesday.

Trainer Nicky Henderson has since reported that he is looking "alert and bright", but a decision on his participation will be made over the coming days.

Nevertheless, punters will not be solely focused on whether the seven-year-old will defend its crown in the showpiece race on the opening day, and attention will be given to trying to identify value for money elsewhere.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at a number of selections that should be considered with less than two weeks to go until the festival gets underway.

TUESDAY - Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (16:50)

Distance: 2m abt 1/2f
Type: Hurdle

Instead of looking at the Champion Hurdle, our focus is on the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, a race that has been won three times in the past six years by Gordon Elliott.

The stable is well represented once again, but Wodhooh, on paper, has the best chance of prevailing after winning on five occasions since changing from the Sir Michael Stoute yard in the summer.

Wodhooh was odds-on to win the last three of those races, so the opposition should be taken into consideration, but five run-outs over this distance since September and a current price of around 8/1 looks too attractive to turn down at this stage of the betting.

WE SAY: Wodhooh (8/1)

WEDNESDAY - Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (15:30)

El Fabiolo ridden by Paul Townend in action on their way to winning 14:10 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase in 2023© Reuters

Distance: Abt 2m
Type: Chase

All eyes will be on the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday to see whether Willie Mullins can deliver a third win in a row, with his previous two successes coming through Energumene.

El Fabiolo, the current 1/2 favourite, will be taking centre stage, providing that he is entered into this race and not another later in the week, after he finished strongly to win last year's Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase, yet there will be competition in the form of Jonbon.

The Nicky Henderson-trained horse was second to El Fabiolo in the aforementioned race, and recently lost its winning streak when finishing second as a 1/4 favourite at this course.

Jonbon did win on soft ground at Cheltenham in November, though, and it would be naive to write off 10/3 betting odds if you were looking for more value than El Fabiolo, who will only shorten in price.

WE SAY: Jonbon (10/3)

THURSDAY - Ryanair Steeple Chase (14:50)

Hitman ridden by Harry Cobden clears a fence during the 1:45 SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices' Chase Pool in 2023© Reuters

Distance: 2m abt 4 1/2f
Type: Chase

With it yet to be determined whether El Fabiolo runs in the Champions Chase, Thursday's Ryanair Chase remains an alternative option, but we prefer to look for value down the field.

Hitman, who went off at 22/1 in last year's race, finished third and just three lengths adrift of the winner, yet is still available in the region of 16/1.

There have been times when the eight-year-old has looked out of its depth since then, yet Hitman was a respectable runner-up to Shishkin at Newbury on February 10.

Even in defeat, it was a performance that should make punters stand up and take notice, rather than go for some much shorter-priced selections.

WE SAY: Hitman (16/1)

FRIDAY - Cheltenham Gold Cup (15:30)

Paul Townend riding Galopin Des Champs in action on their way to winning the 15:30 The Cheltenham Gold Cup ahead of second placed Harry Cobden riding Bravemansgame© Reuters

Distance: 3m abt 2 1/2f
Type: Chase

The aforementioned Shishkin is priced around 9/2 for the Gold Cup, highlighting his class and why Hitman could be one of the shrewder selections of the meeting.

All things being equal, that is arguably the value bet for Friday's star-studded occasion when last year's winner Galopin Des Champs is priced at close to Evens.

From an each-way perspective, though, we cannot ignore Bravemansgame, last year's runner-up when priced at 6/1 and is now down the listings at 16/1.

Being a nine-year-old may play its part, but since wind surgery in July 2022, this horse has never finished outside of the top two in four races on soft ground, the most likely conditions for this race, as it stands.

WE SAY: Shishkin (9/2)

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