top of page

Cheltenham - Day 1 tips from Otis Brankin Frisby

Cheltenham 2024 – Day One

1:30 Supreme Novices Hurdle 2m½f

Tullyhill and Mystical Power look like two potential top-notchers from Closutton but I am happy to leave them alone with my antepost play on SLADE STEEL and think he still represents value at around 5/1. He was second to Ballyburn at Leopardstown and it would probably be smart to follow the form line, which looks more solid than anything else here. He was well clear of King of Kingsfield that day, who was second in the Royal Bond before winning a hot maiden hurdle. I wouldn’t be surprised if Henry de Bromhead left something to work on before the festival, like he did with Inthepocket last year, while his form over further works in his favour here on what I expect to be a strongly run race on holding ground.

I would be against Firefox and Jeriko Du Reponet. Firefox looked very impressive at Fairyhouse in December but I doubt Ballyburn was anywhere near tuned up for that, while Keith Donoghue rode in that race and said that they went an absolute crawl before he got first run down the straight. His strongest performance on the clock was actually when he was fourth to Readin Tommy Wrong at Naas. I would prefer Jeriko Du Reponet but it is difficult to fancy anything Nicky Henderson saddles until he starts to show some form.

At 25/1 I think Asian Master could run a big race, particularly if they go hard out the front. His point career for the Costellos included a second to Fact To File and a defeat of Now Is The Hour who has won twice over hurdles for Gavin Cromwell. He has since moved to Willie Mullins and his ten-length defeat of the 134-rated Better Days Ahead achieved an RPR of 142 and rated highly on timefigures. I fear he might lack the gears for a Supreme but he could be worth a punt with the SkyBet concession.

Bet: Slade Steel @ 10/1 1pt EW antepost (now 5/1 general)

2:10 Arkle Novices Chase 2m

This market lacks spine and it remains difficult to be confident about any one horse. Before he was ruled out, I was tempted to take 5/2 about Marine Nationale on the chance that he would return to form on spring ground. My theory with his wind is that he has always had a slight issue, thus his head carriage, which only came into sharper focus on very soft ground over fences. I don’t rate the Irish Arkle form particularly highly and think the top two are vulnerable here – Found A Fifty jumps right and Il Etait Temps is a small horse who has bombed out twice here. Gaelic Warrior is the joker in the pack. He also jumps right but he wasn’t actually that bad in the Ballymore last year, settling on the inside of horses and keeping relatively straight. The Old Course is tight but the fences come mainly on the straight and this field is so weak otherwise that his class could win this for him. However, he has predictably come for lots of support and is no price now at 5/2. The one I have come down on is HUNTERS YARN in the double green, who is a little inexperienced but right up there on figures based on his defeat of Path D’Oroux, who runs off a mark of 142 in the Grand Annual. He won that in a canter and there is scope for improvement.

Of those at bigger prices, I did like JPR One in the build up to this race, but his price has gone now. He is arguably the best jumper in this field and though he didn’t set the world alight over hurdles he looks a much better chaser and I love the way he attacks his fences. MATATA was second to him at Lingfield and I think he could run a big race here. He’s a bit of a tearaway who likes to go out in front so the Old Course should suit his style of running. He was a much better hurdler than both the other British runners and if he brings it all together, 25/1 is a massive price. It’s worth taking note that Sam Twiston-Davies has chosen him over Master Chewy.

Bet: Hunters Yarn @ 13/2 1pt Win

Bet: Matata @ 20/1 0.5pt EW

2:50 Ultima Handicap Chase 3m1f

This race typically has a British bias with no Irish winner since 2006, though they are getting closer with a second and fourth from just three runners last year. Last year’s renewal was very strong with the 1-2 Corach Rambler and Fastorslow both Gold Cup-bound. Monbeg Genius (third) and The Goffer (fourth) have to be respected returning in a race that has a history of runners being placed more than once, particularly the latter returning off 2lb lower than last year. I like the two Kim Bailey horses, though.

TRELAWNE doesn’t have the typical profile for this race having not raced in a 3m chase yet but he looks incredibly well-handicapped. He was 3¾ lengths off Ginny’s Destiny at Cheltenham in December – that rival has gone on to win a strong handicap easily off 147 and is now vying for Turners favouritism. Last time out he finished 1¾ lengths off Crebilly, now a strong favourite for the Plate, conceding 5lb to him and getting done for pace down the straight. He is a big horse and Kim Bailey has said that he has been longing to step him up in trip but just hasn’t found the right race yet. Soft ground on a galloping track will suit and the booking of Harry Cobden obviously a major plus. Chianti Classico has been well found in the market now but everything points to a big run. He really impressed me on chase debut at Chepstow when he beat Pull Again Green and Inch House and since then has won at Ascot on ground he hated and finished a close second to a course specialist at Kempton off 1lb lower than his mark here. He’s an improving novice who jumps well and you can’t ask for much more in this type of race.

Bet: Trelawne @ 15/2 1pt EW (6 places)

3:30 Champion Hurdle 2m½f

It is such a shame that Constitution Hill isn’t running this year and I do feel for Nicky Henderson, though I can’t help but think his cautious campaigning has come back to bite him. You can never guarantee a horse will be sound at a given time of year, so you need to take your chances throughout the season. His absence leaves State Man at a similarly restrictive price and probably takes much of the interest out of this as a betting race. State Man is a top-class Grade 1 hurdler and clear second best in this division. The only horse here capable of laying a glove on him is IRISH POINT, who I incidentally think is very, very good and might just be worth punting at 6/1 here. He was a very smart novice hurdler despite looking quite immature, bringing it all together in the G1 Mersey Novices Hurdle at Aintree which has had countless winners come out of it. He has clearly improved on the evidence of his two starts this year and soft ground will play to his strengths. I don’t see him finishing outside the first three – as long as he does, you will get back your stake.

Bet: Irish Point @ 6/1 1pt EW

4:10 Mares Hurdle 2m4f

Lossiemouth looked a cut above anything on her return at Cheltenham and I strongly fancy her to go in again here. The yard is very sweet on her – they think she’s really improved from last year and also that she’ll come on for the run like many of Willie’s. David Casey (assistant trainer) said that she has been a standout on the gallops every morning. The new trip shouldn’t be an issue, either. If you take into account that she is moving from 2m1f on the New Course to 2m5f on the Old Course, she is effectively racing over just three furlongs further. On Trials Day she was pulling further clear at the line and connections have been very bullish that she will get it – she is even being aimed at the French Champion Hurdle over 3m later in the season. Her price does create value down the field and there are a host of smart mares in behind her at healthy prices, though I’m not going to tell you which one to be on. I might put Love Envoi in a placepot perm in case the favourite disappoints.

4:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Fred Winter) 2m½f

This race can be a bit of a lottery so it’s hard to be confident. I thought Byker was incredibly well-handicapped last year and he was an unlucky second but there is no horse that stands out in the

same way this season. Serial winners are not always treated fairly and sometimes the way to approach it is to look for runners whose ability has been disguised by running down the field in graded races – in the past twelve years, if you backed every horse that wasn’t in the first three last time out blind you would have won £194 to a £1 level stake and found 7 winners. Milan Tino has to be of interest having been dropped 10lb from his French mark after finishing third to Sir Gino, just behind Burdett Road. How he runs here will be an interesting indicator to the strength of that form for the Triumph. Lark In The Mornin also looks very well-handicapped as nothing has gone his way in three hurdle starts so far, but he might prefer better ground and is also short at 13/2.

Despite not fitting the previous trend, the horse I like is LIARI. Paul Nicholls has won 3 of these and he’s especially good with French-breds in this (3 winners and 8 placed from 24 runners). It’s the fact they’ve come here rather than the Triumph would suggest they think he is fairly treated. He’s been pretty much untroubled in his 3 wins and it could just be that he’s a lot better than 134. He won with any amount in hand at Musselburgh and there was solid juvenile form behind him that day – he beat An Bradan Feasa by 8¾ lengths conceding 2lb, who split Burdett Road and Milan Tino in the Cheltenham trial.

Bet: Liari @ 8/1 0.5pt EW (6 places)

5:30 National Hunt Chase 3m6f

Both Corbetts Cross and Embassy Gardens are wearing a first-time hood which says everything about this race. They are probably the two classiest horses in this field but there are doubts over how well they will cope with this extended trip. Corbetts Cross is talented but quirky, not least when running out at the last in the Albert Bartlett last year. It’s hard to be confident that he wants 3m6f – he sometimes runs in snatches and had enough speed to beat Found A Fifty over 2m at Naas last year. His jumping can also be erratic, though Derek O’Connor is a major help. I would marginally prefer Embassy Gardens, who impressed when beating Sandor Clegane at Naas, but he bombed out at the festival last year and I would want to see him in the preliminaries before backing him.

The only other horse in the mix on ratings is Salvador Ziggy, who has been left alone since a disappointing run in the US. He had excuses that day and brings a solid profile into this, having finished second in the Pertemps last year and in the Kerry National off a mark of 150. Gordon Elliott has a fantastic record in this race and has replicated his the campaigns of Ravenhill and Galvin, getting chase experience into him during the summer before backing off in autumn. My only concern would be that he won’t want the ground to be too testing. I am at the course today so will wait to play my hand once I see the top two in the paddock and we have a better idea of the ground.

Bet: tbc


Recent Posts

See All

Aintree - Grand National Day tips from Otis Brankin Frisby

Aintree 2024 – Day Three 1:20 William Hill Handicap Hurdle 3m½f Dan Skelton and Nicky Henderson seem to hold the keys to this with three runners each and you could argue that the price differentials h

Aintree - Day 2 tips from Otis Brankin Frisby

Aintree 2024 – Day Two 1:45 Mildmay Novices Chase 3m This looks a brilliant Mildmay with two Cheltenham winners among a handful of other interesting contenders. Inothewayurthinkin absolutely bolted up

Aintree - Day 1 tips from Otis Brankin Frisby

Aintree 2024 – Day One 1:45 Manifesto Novices Chase 2m4f The opening race distils one of the key Aintree storylines in microcosm: the race for the trainers championship. Dan Skelton and his former bos



5Sporting Agenda Social Share
3Sporting Agenda Social Share
4Sporting Agenda Social Share
2Sporting Agenda Social Share
1Sporting Agenda Social Share
bottom of page