Cheltenham Festival picks and plays for March 15, 2024

March 14th, 2024

Day four of the Cheltenham Festival is the finale, and as such is justly the day for the biggest race of the festival – and, arguably, the biggest jumps race of the year.

Worth about $800,000, the Cheltenham Gold Cup (G1) is the race which decides the best staying steeplechaser in Britain and Ireland. For the second year it’s headed by Irish raider Galopin Des Champs, but there are plenty of good horses seeking his crown.

Don’t forget TwinSpires’ Cheltenham $10 money back offer, where those who opt in will get up to $10 back on unsuccessful win bets if their horse finishes second or third.

Here’s a look at possible plays for day four.

Race 1, 9:30 a.m. ET: Triumph Hurdle (G1), 2 1/8 miles, four-year-old hurdlers

The big question was whether #11 Sir Gino would be healthy enough to give his best, given that many others from the Nicky Henderson stable have been pulled out of festival races this week. It was hard to be confident given the way the last month has gone for Henderson, and now Sir Gino is a non-runner as well. 

That means it’s hard to look past Willie Mullins, who could have seven runners. #14 Kargese beat stablemates #12 Storm Heart and #5 Majborough at Leopardstown in the main Irish prep for this, but Majborough was having his first run for the season and may take enough improvement out of it to win.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #5 Majborough
  • $1 trifecta: 5, 14 with 5, 12, 14 with 5, 9, 12, 14

Race 2, 10:10 a.m. ET: County Hurdle, 2 1/8 miles, handicap hurdle

It looks like #15 L’Eau Du Sud will have to carry the British flag against the Irish raiders here. He does have the advantage of being prepared by Dan Skelton, who’s already won four at Cheltenham this week and who has won this race four times. The form would look better if his Newbury conqueror Iberico Lord had run better in the Champion Hurdle, but given the health cloud over Iberico Lord’s stable it can perhaps be ignored.

However, there is plenty of strength in the Irish challenge. The interesting runner is #9 Absurde, who was seventh in the Melbourne Cup (G1) last November. He may improve on his effort for fourth behind subsequent Cheltenham winners Ballyburn and Slade Steel Feb. 4, but he needs to find a lot to beat the third horse that day, #6 King Of Kingsfield.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #6 King Of Kingsfield

Race 3, 10:50 a.m. ET: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (G1), 3 miles, novice hurdlers

Mullins again holds a strong hand here with five runners; the most notable of them is probably #10 Readin Tommy Wrong, a Grade 1 winner at Naas Jan. 12. It will take a bit to stop him, but the odds may be a little tight.

One for a good price could be #2 Captain Teague; he runs well here and has looked good while winning twice over hurdles this term. #4 Dancing City, #6 Gidleigh Park, and #9 Lecky Watson look to be good options for exotics.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #2 Captain Teague
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 10 with 2, 4, 10 with 2, 4, 6, 9, 10

Race 4, 11:30 a.m. ET: Cheltenham Gold Cup (G1), 3 5/16 miles, open steeplechasers

Can anything stop #4 Galopin Des Champs from taking a second Gold Cup? There’s no doubt he’s got the class to do it. But is he worth taking at likely odds of even money? He has been beaten twice in the past 12 months by #3 Fastorslow, though that horse might want drier footing.

The English have some decent runners here. #9 L’Homme Presse has won around Cheltenham and should enjoy testing conditions. But one that looks a solid bet is #2 Corach Rambler. The Grand National winner’s Cheltenham triumphs have been in lesser company but he loves the track and can come at them with the last run to test the favorite at reasonable odds.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #2 Corach Rambler
  • $3 trifecta: 2, 4 with 2, 3, 4 with 2, 3, 4, 6, 9


Race 5, 12:10 p.m. ET: Hunters’ Chase, 3 5/16 miles, qualified hunter steeplechasers

Twelve months ago, #6 Premier Magic won this race at 66-1. But he’s proven since that he had the required ability, having won all three of his subsequent starts. At level weights he’s a very good chance to repeat.

#1 Billaway normally runs well here, while #5 Its On The Line, #9 Samcro, and #12 Sine Nomine are others with appeal.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #6 Premier Magic
  • $2 trifecta: 5, 6 ,with 1, 5, 6 with 1, 5, 6, 9, 12


Race 6, 12:50 p.m. ET: Mares’ Chase (G2), 2 9/16 miles, mares’ steeplechase

Mullins could easily round off his festival with a triumph here as he has two outstanding mares, #1 Dinoblue and #2 Allegorie De Vassy. Both are great chances, with Allegorie De Vassy the slightly more appealing at the likely odds.

Gavin Cromwell also has two strong contenders here, both of whom get weight from the top two. #4 Brides Hill is going for four wins on end, but the form is arguably a little better about #8 Limerick Lace, who is very much on the improve.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #8 Limerick Lace
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 8 with 1, 2, 8 with 1, 2, 4, 8


Race 7, 1:30 p.m. ET: Martin Pipe Hurdle (G1), 2 9/16 miles, handicap hurdle, conditional jockeys

Often a tough race for punters to depart on. It is usually won by a talented young rider on the way up, and no jockey fits that description better than Michael O’Sullivan, a winner last year in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He is aboard likely favorite #5 Quai De Bourbon and must have a solid chance.

However, worth considering here is last year’s winning rider Aidan Kelly. He’s aboard #4 No Ordinary Joe, who was second in the race last year, and the presence of Kelly can be enough to get him up this year.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #4 No Ordinary Joe.