Cheltenham Festival 2024: Ante-Post Market Movers
It’s been a big week for Gold Cup contenders, with reigning champ Galopin Des Champs locking horns with his Punchestown Gold Cup conqueror Fastorslow in the John Durkan Memorial Chase.
It was a thrilling edition of the feature event, although Willie Mullins won’t think so, given he trained five of the six runners but still didn’t train the winner!
Let’s look at the performances that have impacted the ante-post Cheltenham odds for some of the 2024 Festival races.
Fastorslow Slays Mullins’ Battalions Once Again
Betting for Sunday’s Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase indicated that Gold Cup hero Galopin Des Champs was fully expected to do what he did in the Punchestown contest 12 months earlier.
However, Fastorslow, sent off a 9/1 chance despite having beaten the Gold Cup winner at the end of last season, clearly hadn’t read the script although nor, for that matter, had the reigning champ!
Despite the fear that the 2m 3f trip was too sharp for Martin Brassil’s stable star, Fastorslow showed himself to be a lot more tactically versatile than many had given him credit for by staying on strongly after the last to pick off long-time leader Appreciate It.
Fastorslow, who was beaten a neck by Corach Rambler in last season’s Ultima Handicap Chase, has now won two Grade 1’s since and, with more to come back up in trip, further big staying-race glory looks very much on the cards for a seven-year-old that might still not have reached his peak.
It was no surprise then, that the layers deemed it prudent to half his Gold Cup odds (6/1 from 12/1) while at the same time nudging Galopin Des Champs out to a top-price 3/1 (from 2/1).
Willie Mullins’ star has now been beaten on both starts since that seven-length demolition of Bravemansgame at Prestbury Park and the form of that race is beginning to show some cracks.
Galopin Des Champs didn’t always jump fluently on return and never really looked like he would repeat last season’s heroics in the same race, but it was still disappointing that he couldn’t get past Appreciate It, a stablemate rated 27lb inferior.
He'll need to leave this form some way behind if he’s going to hit the heights of last season.
Betfair Chase Round-Up
Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock also had ante-post implications for the Gold Cup, although mainly from a negative point of view because last year’s Gold Cup runner-up Bravemansgame was turned over emphatically by Royale Pagaille.
Bravemansgame is now 16/1 (from 10/1) with horse racing betting sites to go one place better in March, although Paul Nicholls will now be focusing his attention on getting his stable star right for his big mid-season target, the King George, for which he remains a 5/2 favourite.
Royale Pagaille has been well beaten in the last three Gold Cups, but he’s never had the testing ground he needs to show his best form.
He’s a 20/1 chance to take down the best staying chasers in training come March.
Mullins’ Novices Sparkle On Chasing Debut
Grade 1-winning novice hurdler Gaelic Warrior had onlookers salivating as he absolutely pulverised his rivals on chasing debut at Punchestown on Saturday.
So impressive was Rich Ricci’s five-year-old, that he is now 4/1 favourite (from 10/1) with betting sites for the Turners Novices’ Chase, a race that his trainer hasn’t won since 2017.
Gaelic Warrior, who only found high-class stablemate Impaire Et Passe too good in last season’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, jumped like a pro and had his rivals strung out a long way from home and there could be some very big days ahead for this exuberant gelding.
Klassical Dream is a bit longer in the tooth at nine years of age, but this multiple Grade 1-winning hurdler got his chasing career off to a flying start at Thurles on Thursday.
An impressive winner of the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown in April, Klassical Dream could hardly have made a smoother transition to the bigger obstacles by barely touching a twig en route to slamming Digby by nine and a half lengths.
Klassical Dream doesn’t have time on his side, indeed many have questioned why Willie Mullins has left it so late to make the switch to fences, but it’s by no means impossible that this talented stayer can strike at the top level over fences as a novice.
That 20/1 about him for the Turners’ Novices’ Chase could easily have been a bit shorter but it’s shaping up to be a very competitive division.
State Man Proves He’s Still The Boss In Ireland – For Now!
Willie Mullins is hoping that his crack two-mile hurdler State Man has improved again from last season, but it will need to be a serious jolt of progress if he’s to get to grips with the out-of-this-world Constitution Hill.
State Man ultimately had little difficulty making a winning return in the Grade 1 Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown but even a five-length Grade 1 success in Ireland isn’t going to have betting apps running for cover against a rival of the stature of Constitution Hill.
State Man, second in last year’s Champion Hurdle, is 6/1 (from 8/1) to take down the reigning champ in March.
However, rider Paul Townend might well have a decision to make later in the season because State Man’s stablemate Impaire Et Passe (5/1) remains slightly shorter in many Champion Hurdle lists despite not even having run in open company yet.
We’ll see what State Man and Impaire Et Passe are up against this week because Constitution Hill is poised to make his highly anticipated seasonal return in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.
Round-Up Of Last Week’s Cheltenham Festival Market Movers
📉 Fastorslow – 6/1 (from 12/1) for the Gold Cup
📈 Galopin Des Champs – 3/1 (from 2/1) for the Gold Cup
📈 Bravemansgame – 16/1 (from 10/1) for the Gold Cup
📉 Royale Pagaille – 20/1 (first show) for the Gold Cup
📉 Gaelic Warrior – 4/1 (from 10/1) for the Turners Novices’ Chase
📉 Klassical Dream – 20/1 (from 25/1) for the Turners Novices’ Chase
📉 State Man – 6/1 (from 8/1) for the Champion Hurdle
📉 Hispanic Moon – 20/1 (first show) for the Mares’ Hurdle
📉 Jody Ted – 14/1 (from 20/1) for the Pertemps Network Final
📉 Predators Gold – 20/1 (from 25/1) for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
📈 Mister Policeman – 16/1 (from 8/1) for the Arkle Chase
📉 The Enabler – 40/1 (from 66/1) for the Champion Bumper
📉 Crambo – 20/1 (from 33/1) for the Stayers’ Hurdle
Stay In The Loop With Free Bets, Insider Tips & More!
Live Betting. Sports Promos. Sent Weekly.