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Cheltenham Festival 2024: winners, tips and more on Champion Hurdle day – live – news today

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Henry de Bromhead, winning trainer of the Supreme with Slade Star, spoke to the BBC: “It’s amazing. It is the first time we have won this race. Rachael gave him a super ride and I am delighted. I thought he would be better on nicer ground but he has always been a pacey horse. It is great to get one on the board as he is one of our big hopes this week.”

That Blackmore win raised money for a special cause, donated by Betfair for every one of her wins. She’s got a live on in the next with Quilixios.

2.10 Arkle Chase odds

  • Gaelic Warrior 5/2

  • Il Etait Temps 4/1

  • Hunters Yarn 15/2

  • Quilixios 8/1

  • Found A Fifty 8/1

  • JPR One 14/1

  • My Mate Mozzie 16/1

  • Master Chewy 16/1

  • Matata 25/1

  • Authorised Speed 100/1

  • Odds via Oddspedia

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Greg Wood

Greg Wood

CHELTENHAM 2.10 ARKLE CHASE PREVIEW

Another sizable posse from the Mullins stable here, including a warm 2-1 favourite in Gaelic Warrior who leaves me very cold. He has a decent record at this meeting, having finished second in both the Boodles in 2022 and the two-and-a-half mile novice hurdle last year, but his latest run behind his very useful stable companion Fact To File – he was miles adrift when unseating at the last – is hardly what you’d want to see in a Festival favourite. He is not quite top of the Timeform ratings, either – he is 1lb behind another Mullins runner, Hunters Yarn, while Il Etait Temps, the winner of the Irish equivalent of this race at Leopardstown in February, also arrives with better recent form. Quilixios, the Triumph Hurdle winner four years ago, is another with definite claims having looked to be reaching something close to his hurdles form over the biggest obstacles when successful at Naas in January, while Found A Fifty, who was only run out of it late by Il Etait Temps at Leopardstown, also deserves close consideration. The British challenge, meanwhile, is led by Joe Tizzard’s JPR One, who was only one unfortunate slip away from an impressive course-and-distance win in November, although he did finish only third when upped to Grade One company for the first time in December. My money, for what it’s worth, will be riding with Hunters Yarn, who bounced back from a fall on his chasing debut in December to record a highly impressive success at Fairyhouse in January, form that gives him a real chance to outrun his price of around 7-1 if he can overcome his relative inexperience.

SELECTION: HUNTERS YARN.

What does that all mean? The Mullins quadpot is already sunk and those wondering about Seven Barrows form may be concerned about what happened to Jeriko Du Reponet. De Bromhead and Blackmore – a golden couple at Cheltenham.

Cheltenham 1.30 result

  • 1 Slade Steel (Rachael Blackmore) 7-2

  • 2 Mystical Power (M P Walsh) 10-3

  • 3 Firefox (J W Kennedy) 11-2
    11 ran
    Also: 11-4 Fav Tullyhill, 16-1 Asian Master 4th

Rachael Blackmore speaks: “I didn’t want to be in front jumping the last but he took me there and battled hard. I love this place, it’s amazing to be coming here and riding these kinds of horses.”

It was won at the last, and Slade Steel was asked for a big one. Mystical Power lost his speed as they climbed to the finish, having jumped in front.

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Slade Steel wins the Supreme!

It’s Rachael and Henry de Bromhead again!

The horses shunt around as they look for the best start possible. Will there be a false start? The Cheltenham roar goes up, but then halts. The track looks like a paddy field, it’s extremely moist. It’s an edgy start, and a false start. Back we go. The roar goes up on the second attempt. We are racing. Tullyhill takes an early lead. Jeriko Du Reponet tracks the leaders as they go past the main stands. Slade Steel, backed in, is up there too. Supersundae is the back marker. It’s not a rapid pace. Tullyhill continues to be up there, Tellherthename is up in the vanguard too, as they swing down to the business end. It’s a bunched field at the third last. Slade Steel in there. Tullyhill leads over the second last, and to the last. Slade Steel takes on Tullyhill and jumps the last, and Mystical Power looks to have it, only for Slade Steel to stay up, and win. Rachael Blackmore has done it again! Beating the Annie Power horse!

Rachael Blackmore celebrates a brilliant win on Slade Steel. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
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1.30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

  • Tullyhill 3/1

  • Mystical Power 7/2

  • Slade Steel 9/2

  • Firefox 15/2

  • Jeriko Du Reponet 10/1

  • Mistergif 14/1

  • Asian Master 20/1

  • Tellherthename 25/1

  • Favour And Fortune 33/1

  • Supersundae 100/1

  • Kings Hill 200/1

  • Odds via Oddspedia

Market movers:

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It’s all about Willie Mullins this week, though this is the first year he won’t have his mother, Maureen, around.

Today’s last race, the novice chase for amateur jockeys, has been renamed in her honour.

Everyone in our organisation has that ambition to be at the top,” he says. “If some area is not going well it’s hopped on immediately and put right. We’re always looking for new ways and we tinker and change and hold our breath. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It runs right through the yard, to the grooms and riders, and I love them buying into it.

Greg Wood

Greg Wood

Preview: CHELTENHAM 1.30 SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE

A race that could well set the tone for the afternoon, as Willie Mullins sends out the first of an army of favourites this week in Tullyhill, with backup from the unbeaten Mystical Power, who is one the most impressively-bred horses ever to set foot on Prestbury Park. His sire was the late Galileo, who is generally agreed to have been the greatest Flat stallion of the last 50 years at least, while his dam, Annie Power, won the Champion Hurdle. Mystical Power is unbeaten in three starts, while Tullyhill has won twice since finishing second on his first start over timber, and either could end up going off as favourite (Tullyhill is currently shading it at 3-1, with Mystical Power at 7-2). They are, to some extent, the B team, however, as Mullins’s Ballyburn would have been a red-hot favourite for this had he not been re-routed to the opening race tomorrow, over an extra half-mile, and as it happens, Slade Steel, who was seven lengths behind Ballyburn in a Grade One at Leopardstown last month. That form puts Henry de Bromhead’s runner very close to the market leaders – he is 1lb clear at the top of Timeform’s ratings, in fact – and I reckon he could get Rachael Blackmore off to a perfect start at the meeting. Gordon Elliott’s Firefox, who actually beat Ballyburn in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse in December, is the other leading member of an extremely strong Irish team, while anyone looking for a British-trained winner will probably start with Nicky Henderson’s Jeriko Du Reponet, who is unbeaten in three including a Grade Two at Doncaster last time. He has yet to post anything close to the level of form that the market leaders can boast, however, and there are also those nagging concerns about the overall wellbeing of the Henderson string – four of his last 10 runners have been pulled up.

SELECTION: SLADE STEEL.

Slade Steel is our pick for the Novice Hurdle. Photograph: Tom Maher/INPHO/Shutterstock
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Here’s today’s schedule of races.

  • 13:30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 2m 1/2f

  • 14:10 – My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase, 2m

  • 14:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase, 3m 1f

  • 15:30 – Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, 2m 1/2f

  • 16:10 – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, 2m 4f

  • 16:50 – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, 2m 1/2f

  • 17:30 – Maureen Mullins National Hunt Chase (Novices’ Chase, amateur jockeys), 3m 6f

A reminder of the first day last year, maybe some pointers to this year in there.

  • Marine Nationale, Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

  • El Fabiolo, Sporting Life Arkle

  • Corach Rambler, Ultima Handicap Chase

  • Constitution Hill, Unibet Champion Hurdle

  • Honeysuckle, Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle

  • Jazzy Matty, Boodles Juvenile Hurdle

  • Gaillard Du Mesnil, Wellchild National Hunt Chase

Breakfast is probably a no-go. For lunch, I try to have a sandwich then have something like a pasta-based dinner, nothing too heavy. I try to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks. Chocolate and fizzy drinks are my guilty pleasures. It’s difficult not to, but I try not to snack as it doesn’t suit me at all.

Sadly, the weather may not have helped the chances of a late show-up at the festival. Today, at least. The first year back after Covid was bedlam, the second far emptier. Usually go Champion Chase day, this year going to the Gold Cup, but you have to wonder whether Cheltenham’s dominance of the rest of the UK scene – Ireland has its Dublin Festival and also Punchestown – has eventually hurt the blue-riband event itself.

Of course, the post-Covid years have not been easy on the pocket, either, where in March 2022 there was a lot of saved-up cash and pent-up frustration to exert. There may, though as favs are usually beloved at Prestbury Park, be something of a Max Verstappen/Manchester City effect going on with the Mullins team.

More on that heavy ground. Bottomless?

John Brewin

John Brewin here, rather glad I am not at HQ today. The weather looks, well, unpromising. And could have a big say in what happens today.

Here’s Greg’s betting guide for the first day.

Preamble

Greg Wood

Greg Wood

Good morning from Cheltenham, where a damp and soggy start to the opening day of the Festival meeting has seen the going on the Old course deteriorate to soft, heavy in places and left Wednesday’s Cross-Country Chase hanging in the balance.

There was 6mm of rain overnight, significantly more than the 2mm-4mm that had been forecast, and it is still raining, with another 4mm-6mm expected in all today before the conditions (hopefully) start to brighten up around lunchtime. The Cross Country course, meanwhile, will be inspected at 6am GMT tomorrow, and if the race cannot be staged in its usual slot, the track will look into shifting it to Friday’s Gold Cup card.

Any mention of heavy in the going description on day one is a distinct rarity these days – it’s more common for the track to be putting water on in the fortnight before to ensure that it’s on the soft side of good. And it could make for a much more interesting race for the Champion Hurdle at 3.30pm, since it will play to the strengths of the stayers, like Irish Point, and potentially blunt the speed of the odds-on favourite, State Man.

State Man is just one among a whole host of market leaders from Willie Mullins’s stable on the opening card, and he will hope to make a significant dent in the half-dozen wins he needs to be the first trainer with 100 at the Festival. Tullyhill and Mystical Power – a son of the Champion Hurdle winner, Annie Power – are likely to set off as first- and second-favourites for the opening Supreme Novice Hurdle, and he also has three of the top four in the Arkle betting and another odds-on shot, Lossiemouth, in the Mares’ Hurdle.

That said, there are live runners from other yards in most of the races and quite a few of them appealed when I put my final selections together yesterday. That, of course, may or may not be good news for the man from County Carlow.

As ever, every market move, millimetre of rain and point of interest will be dissected here on the blog as it happens, today and every day at racing’s showpiece event, so let’s take a deep breath and get on with the giddy ride!



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