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Cheltenham ante-post betting: Irish Point emerges as a Champion Hurdle contender



In a whirlwind few days for Cheltenham Festival 2024 news, Constitution Hill and Marine Nationale – favourites for their respective races, having both won at last year’s spectacle in the Cotswolds – are now on next week’s absentee list.

Given the resultant ripples in the Champion Hurdle and Arkle markets, now is a great time to home in on them. Add in that Fact To File is going for the Brown Advisory, that leaves the Turners Novices’ Chase wide open.

Irish Point has emerged as a serious contender in the Champion and it will be much easier to run him there with Constitution Hill missing.

Here we take a look at the three races that have been blown wide open by recent omissions and whether there are some new form lines that should be considered in what are now completely different races.

Cheltenham ante-post betting tips – 2024

Odds correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.

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Hunter’s Yarn

Cheltenham Festival odds: Arkle Novices’ Chase – 6/1 

The Arkle market has changed hugely over the past month or so. Marine Nationale was very short before bombing at Leopardstown last time out, which made the market a bit more competitive – and trainer Barry Connell’s seven-year-old charge will miss the race.

Found A Fifty and Il Etait Temps now head the market, and it is easy to see why. They crossed paths at the Dublin Racing Festival and that form suggests there is not a great deal between the pair.

It could be worth following a different strand of form in this open contest and Willie Mullins’s Hunters Yarn is a fascinating proposition.

He does come with some questions to answer but could be well worth a play here. A faller on chase debut at Fairyhouse, he had that race on December 16 well under control before a tumble at the last – and the fortuitous winner Sa Fureur ended up 40 lengths clear of Byker in second.

Plenty of work will be required with Hunters Yarn’s jumping as he belted one when comfortably beating a fair handicapper last time out by 10 lengths. This horse clearly has a good engine, however, and will improve in that regard with more experience.

Selection: Hunters Yarn to win the Arkle Novices’ Chase @ 6/1 with BoyleSports

Irish Point

Cheltenham Festival odds: Champion Hurdle – 4/1 

Racing fans everywhere will be devastated that Constitution Hill is missing the action in the Champion Hurdle and delivers a significant dent to British chances of competing with the Irish.

This significant absentee now leaves trainer Gordon Elliott with a decision to make about where to run Irish Point. He had been contemplating giving him an outing here, and the turn of events may force his hand.

The Mullins-trained State Man is now the odds-on favourite and understandably so. He has been impressive so far this season and may be a better horse this year. Skinny odds make him uninteresting from a punting perspective and Irish Point is a solid alternative.

Elliott’s six-year-old has been a huge improver this term and he bolted up in a Grade 1 over just shy of three miles at Leopardstown on December 28. 

He began the campaign by winning a Grade 3 over 2m 1f at Down Royal in November and will certainly be staying on strongly up the hill.

It is fair to assume that the best is yet to come from him and it would be no surprise if he were to shake up this race with a career pinnacle.

Selection: Irish Point to win the Champion Hurdle @ 4/1 with BoyleSports

Facile Vega

Cheltenham Festival odds: Turners Novices’ Chase – 5/1 

Fact to File has been rerouted to the Brown Advisory on day two of the Festival and that switch left a gaping hole at the top of the market for the Turners.

Two British-trained runners in the shape of Ginny’s Destiny and Grey Dawning now head the betting, and the pair have vulnerabilities for different reasons. This trip would not bring out the best in the latter, while the former has a bit to prove at this level.

Trainer Mullins could still win this race and Facile Vega could prove to be the class horse if turning up here. The son of Walk In the Park out of Quevega has been crying out for a step up in trip – and although he may want even further in time, this looks like the right journey for now. Soft ground will also help.

He seems to get outpaced in classy races at just over two miles at the moment, so this contest at almost 2m 4f could be the perfect solution. The longer trip will help his jumping and he is the best horse in this company when at the top of his game.

Selection: Facile Vega to win the Turners Novices’ Chase @ 5/1 with BoyleSports

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