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Cheltenham Festival tips: Experts on best bets and horses to watch in the Gold Cup

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Galopin Des Champs is set to start Friday’s Gold Cup as the favourite to win Cheltenham Festival’s showpiece race.

Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend, Galopin delivered a storming victory for the Irish duo last year and looks set to cap another glorious week for Mullins and Townend at Cheltenham.

But they face competition from Fastorslow, Gerri Colombe, L’Homme Presse and Barvemansgame, who finished runner-up last year after Galopin raced to the front with two fences to go before pulling away up the hill to claim a clear victory.

The 2024 edition of the Gold Cup marks the centenary of the race, first won by Red Splash in 1924.

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Jockey Paul Townend, right, with Irish trainer Willie Mullins (AFP via Getty Images)

Racing ambassadors Alex Hammond, Oli Bell and Ed Chamberlin spoke to Sky Bet about their Day 3 picks, legendary former jockey Ruby Walsh shared his tips with Paddy Power and racing expert Tony Calvin makes his final day tips with Betfair.

When is the 2024 Gold Cup?

The race is scheduled for Friday 15 March, with a start time of 3.30pm GMT.

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Gold Cup Day – Friday’s full schedule

13:30 – Triumph Hurdle

Alex Hammond: “The first race on the final day of the festival is the Triumph Hurdle and Sky Bet are offering money back as cash if you lose. No Sir Gino here and that’s been the big story throughout the week, the Nicky Henderson horses that aren’t running. But we’ve got Sir Gino by proxy here in Salvator Mundi who’s the horse who’s finished closest to Sir Gino in his career. He’s owned by the same people as Sir Gino and is now with Willie Mullins and I hope he can run a big race in the Triumph.”

Ruby Walsh adds: “Willie Mullins has plenty of runners including Majborough, Storm Heart, Kargese and Bunting. There isn’t much between them all so I’ll take Bunting at a bigger each-way price.”

14:10 – County Hurdle

Tony Calvin has a couple of options here: “Absurde has been my lean for the County Hurdle at 14:10 ever since I did my prep for the Preview in Dublin last week – providing he got decent ground on the day.

“But surely, last year’s winner Faivoir has a big chance at these weights, just 2lb higher than winning last season and 4lb well-in here for his Imperial Cup second on Saturday (he obviously should have won, as his jockey admitted afterwards), but the obvious doubt for him is the quick turnaround.”

Walsh adds: “Zenta is Willie Mullins’ best chance but I’m with Leau Du Sud. Dan Skelton told me he really fancies him, as he did with Unexpected Party who bolted up on Wednesday, so I’ll side with him!”

14:50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Oli Bell: “In the Albert Bartlett, Sky Bet are paying five places instead of three and the horse I like is trained by Harry Fry – one on the board hopefully for the Brits. Gidleigh Park is a progressive stayer, got a good form to his name and I think there is plenty left under the bonnet. With the extra places on offer, I’m going with the Brits in the Albert Bartlett with Gidleigh Park – good luck.”

Walsh says: “I’m with Readin Tommy Wrong. He’s the classiest horse in this race but keep an eye on Dancing City, who finished second behind Ballyburn and ahead of Slade Steel at Punchestown last year.”

15:30 – Cheltenham Gold Cup

Alex Hammond: “Gold Cup time and Sky Bet are paying four places rather than three. That makes me even more keen on L’Homme Presse, Venetia Williams’ horse has done well this season, returning from injury. He won at Lingfield, he run a solid race at Ascot in conditions that weren’t playing to his strengths. The team weren’t in great form then, but they’re in better form now so for me L’Homme Presse in the Gold Cup.”

Calvin says: “The Gold Cup at 15:30 looks a great race but it doesn’t make it an attractive betting medium. I’d rather be with Galopin Des Champs than against him at around evens, but that is probably his right price, in truth.

“The absence of Shishkin is a big positive for him, as the Henderson horse and Fastorslow were his most dangerous form rivals, and I sense he will take a lot of whacking.

Fastorslow at 7.2 on the exchange is probably the bet to be had if there is one.”

Walsh: “I’ve been with Galopin Des Champs for a long time and I like everything about him. He was very good last year and he’s the best horse in here. Fastorslow will most likely chase him home. Corach Rambler or Gerri Colombe will likely be third.

16:10 – Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase

Ed Chamberlin: “We’re hoping to create some magic on Gold Cup day in the Hunters’ Chase. Sky Bet are paying four places on the Hunters’ Chase, and I see no reason why Premier Magic can’t produce some Hunters’ Chase magic again!”

Walsh adds: “I’d be lying if I said I had a really strong fancy in this but I’ll side with Its On The Line for Emmet Mullins. He’s won his last three and he’ll relish the stamina test.”

16:50 – Mares’ Steeple Chase

Oli Bell: “In the Mares’ Chase I’m all aboard the J.P. McManus hotpot, Dinoblue. She’s a short price but I think she’s going to take a world of beating and send me off from Cheltenham this year with a winner to my name. It’s been a tough with for the Brits and I think it’s going to get even harder in the Mares’ Chase because Dinoblue is a rock-solid favourite and will be hard to beat.”

Walsh is also keen on Dinoblue: “Allegorie De Vassy has improved considerably but Dinoblue is the standout. She’s got rock solid form and she’ll be hard to beat.”

17:30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle

Alex Hammond: “The final race of the whole festival is the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and Sky Bet are paying six places rather than four. I’m going to have a go with Ocastle des Mottes, who has his second start for Willie Mullins here. His first start for the stable came in the Betfair hurdle at Newbury, which is an ultra-competitive race just like this one, but it’s over a shorter trip. I think the step-up in trip will suit this horse, he got a little bit jazzed up before Newbury because he had to be reshod, but I’m hoping that everything goes smoothly, and we can get a good run from Ocastle des Mottes.”

Walsh likes Ocastle des Mottes, but has another fancy too: “Willie Mullins has Quai De Bourbon at the top of the market and he could be ahead of the handicapper. Ocastle Des Mottes makes appeal to me as he will show improvement from stepping up in trip.

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