Cheltenham Festival Day One Tips


The 2024 Cheltenham Festival is finally upon us, with four days of first-class racing to look forward to, and the famous Cheltenham Roar will be at its loudest on Tuesday at 1.30pm – when the first race of the festival gets underway. Our Racing Club Insider runs us through their tips for all seven races on the opening day of the festival. 

1.30pm – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

We kick things off with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, a race that has been dominated in recent years by two trainers in particular – in the last 10 years, Willie Mullins has won four renewals and Nicky Henderson has won three. I think there are three horses in here who are clear of the rest; Tullyhill, Mystical Power and Jeriko Du Reponet, and of the trio I’m siding with TULLYHILL

He’s really impressed in the manner he’s won his last two races, and there’s collateral form that suggests he should be able to edge out stablemate Mystical Power. He’s clear on official ratings and topspeed ratings, and I just feel he will have too much for his rivals in here. I expect him to try to make all, and I don’t think his rivals will be able to keep up with him!


2.10pm – Arkle Chase

This is one of my more confident fancies for the week, even though the selection does come with risks attached! GAELIC WARRIOR is by far the most talented horse in the race, and despite his preference to race right-handed, I think he’ll win this fairly comfortably. Trainer Willie Mullins has won five of the last nine renewals, and Gaelic Warrior looks the pick from his three runners, based on what he’s achieved over fences this season. 

He may have lost last time out in a match race against Fact To File, but I’m willing to ignore that and if you go back to his previous race, he cruised to victory over Il Etait Temps. That is by far the best piece of form on offer here, and I wouldn’t worry too much about his tendency to prefer going left-handed – his two previous races at Cheltenham have seen him finish 2nd both times. Gaelic Warrior should prove his class here and I’m confident he’ll land this with a fair bit in hand. 


2.50pm – Ultima Handicap Chase

I like the angle of backing horses who raced in this race last year, and of those, MONBEG GENIUS should have a huge chance of improving on his third-placed effort last year. The form of last year’s race has worked out extremely well, with the winner Corach Rambler now rated 159 (was 146 in the race), and the runner-up Fastorslow now rated 170 (was 150 in the race). 

This season, he’s had three races, with the best piece of form coming when third in the Coral Gold Cup. He is on a 5lb higher mark in here but he tends to run best on his second run following a break and a return to soft ground and back at Cheltenham should see him to much better effect. I think he’s a cracking price and I’ll be shocked if he finishes outside the top 5. 


3.30pm – Champion Hurdle

This should be a straightforward victory for Willie Mullins’ STATE MAN. He is by far the classiest horse in the race, and with no Constitution Hill in the race he should be winning this by some distance. His only defeat in the last two years came in this race last year, when chasing home Constitution Hill but still finishing well clear of the remainder. 

If you’re looking for an E/W play in the race, I would be keen on Luccia, who has placed in her two previous races at Cheltenham and mares’ have a fairly solid record in the race (4 winners from 12 runners in the last 20 years). Considering she is now 17lbs better off with Iberico Lord from the Greatwood Hurdle, and was only beaten 7 lengths that day, I think she is massively overpriced. But for win purposes, there’s only one option and that’s State Man. 


4.10pm – Mares’ Hurdle

Willie Mullins hasn’t won the race since Benie Des Dieux won back in 2018, but he looks to have a huge chance of landing this year’s renewal with LOSSIEMOUTH. She does need to prove her stamina on this step up in trip, but she’s 2/2 at Cheltenham and will love the soft ground. The way she won the Triumph Hurdle last year was so impressive and I think she’ll win this in her usual impressive fashion. 

Again, if you would prefer an E/W bet for the race, I think Harry Fry’s Love Envoi looks a good option, having finished runner-up in the race last year. She was well beaten by Lossiemouth last time out but she thrives on soft ground and I fully expect her to be Lossiemouth’s biggest danger. 


4.50pm – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

I did manage to tip 18/1 winner Jazzy Matty in this race last year so I’m hoping I can repeat that feat this year with EAGLE FANG. The race he won last time out has a fantastic record of finding the winner in this race (3 of the last 6 winners of the race won the same prep race that Eagle Fang won), and he looks a huge price to win this. 

He’s had some excellent runs this season, including an excellent third in Grade 3 company, and his record on soft or worse ground reads 231, so he looks excellent value for an each-way play in the race. With plenty of bookies paying six places, he’s a fantastic price and although it’s difficult to be too confident in this race, he should have a big chance and he’s definitely the pick for me. 


5.30pm – National Hunt Chase

This should be a two-horse race between Corbetts Cross and EMBASSY GARDENS, and I would just side with the latter. Willie Mullins and Patrick Mullins have teamed up to win the last two renewals of this race, and they should have a big chance of completing the hat-trick with Embassy Gardens this year. 

His two runs over fences have been super impressive, winning both in effortless fashion, and his main rival Corbetts Cross has only managed to win once from four efforts over the larger obstacles. I fully believe this longer trip will suit Embassy Gardens better than it will Corbetts Cross too, so he has to be the bet in here. 



1.30pm Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tullyhill
2.10pm Arkle Chase Gaelic Warrior
2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase Monbeg Genius
3.30pm Champion Hurdle State Man
4.10pm Mares’ Hurdle Lossiemouth
4.50pm Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Eagle Fang
5.30pm National Hunt Chase Embassy Gardens
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