Cheltenham Festival Tips: Tom Collins provides his selections for Tuesday’s exciting card

11 March 2024

Are you ready for the roar? The Cheltenham Festival is finally here and punters will go into the biggest week of the jumps season with huge optimism and belief to match the palpable excitement.

Those who have put in long hours to study the 28 races should begin to reap the rewards, but worry not if you haven’t had time as I will be writing a daily column in which I will analyse all of the contests before providing my tip(s). Without further ado, let’s get into day one!

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30 Cheltenham)

Willie Mullins, who will surely take home the leading trainer prize on Friday night, has six of the 12 declared runners for this year’s Supreme. It lacks the quality and depth that we have become accustomed to but there are still some nice types in the field.

Mystical Power and Tullyhill currently top the market, but neither have jumped fluently so far in their careers and still need to improve on what they have done to date to win this. I would side with the latter-named runner out of the two due to his style of racing. I also prefer Tullyhill to Firefox, who probably wants a longer trip.

However, I’m sitting on a nice ante-post ticket on Jeriko Du Reponet and I’m quite surprised that he remains as big as 8/1. Nicky Henderson knows what it takes to win a Supreme and this gelding has shown a high level of ability this term. He did virtually everything wrong at Doncaster last time, including hanging and racing on the wrong lead in the straight, but he still got the job done and beat a subsequent Grade 2 winner in the process.

Selection: Jeriko Du Reponet @ 8/1 & 18/1 antepost

Arkle Novices’ Chase (2.10 Cheltenham)

The Arkle usually features a short-priced favourite, but this year’s renewal has a wide-open feel about it after the defection of Marine Nationale. Gaelic Warrior is the favourite but he is far from solid. He comes into this race on the back of a dismal finishing effort at Leopardstown; he doesn’t jump well going left-handed, and he gets a hood fitted in an odd turn of events.

Both Irish Arkle runners, Il Etait Temps and Found A Fifty, boast more solid claims but are far from bombproof. The former is extremely tenacious but lacks size and can make a mistake, while the latter has a tendency to jump out to his right. I actually prefer Quilixios to both of those horses. Henry de Bromhead’s charge comes here on the back of an impressive Naas victory and is unbeaten at Cheltenham after taking the Triumph in 2021.

Nevertheless, I believe the value lies with Hunters Yarn. He possesses the two main characteristics you need to win an Arkle - a high-cruising speed and swift jumping. Hopefully Daryl Jacob will take him straight to the front in an attempt to make all the running.

Selection: Hunters Yarn @ 13/2

Ultima Handicap Chase (2.50 Cheltenham) 

Irish horses have a torrid record in this event (Dun Doire was their last winner back in 2006) but that streak might end this year. They have two very strong claims in the shape of The Goffer and Meetingofthewaters, both of whom look well treated for leading trainers.

The Goffer travelled beautifully en route to finishing fourth in this event last year and he has been dropped 2lb in the interim by the handicapper, suggesting he should be well capable of going close yet again. However, I prefer Meetingofthewaters for Willie Mullins and JP McManus. 

This young chaser bolted up at Leopardstown in December and beat a nice type in Panda Boy with ease. He wasn’t able to get a clean sight of the first fence when last seen and subsequently unseated, but that meant he stayed on a nice mark and this looks a really good spot for him. Only Weveallbeencaught interests me from a UK contingent perspective, but he needs to improve his jumping.

Selection: Meetingofthewaters @ 9/2

Champion Hurdle (3.30 Cheltenham)

Current champion Constitution Hill is forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as his compatriots fight out the prize for Tuesday’s featured contest. Without Nicky Henderson’s machine, State Man will go off a short-priced favourite and rightly so given the strength and consistency of his form. 

Runner-up last year and successful in four Grade 1s since, State Man should prove very hard to beat but he doesn’t represent a good value bet. Some people will look to tap into the each-way or place markets here, but they don’t entice me so I will be sitting this one out.

Selection: N/A

Mares’ Hurdle (4.10 Cheltenham) 

I will keep this one short: Lossiemouth should saunter clear. I was at Cheltenham when she won the International Hurdle earlier this season and the way she powered away from a couple of nice horses up the hill wowed me. She looks like a 2/5 shot rather than the 8/13 offered.  

Willie Mullins’ mare should be unbeaten in seven starts - her sole defeat came when Paul Townend found all sorts of traffic issues - and she has an air of invincibility against her own sex. It’s pretty tough to suggest any of her rivals can match her. 

Selection: Lossiemouth @ 8/13

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.50 Cheltenham)

Gordon Elliott in the Boodles - that has been my ploy for the last few years and it’s not changing this time around.  

Ndaawi, a son of Cracksman, will be the first of two bets for me here. He was smart on the flat for Andrew Balding (official mark of 93) and has made big strides since going hurdling. Three solid efforts were capped off with a decisive strike last time out, where he showcased accurate jumping and a solid turn of foot. The ground should be perfect and I think he will go very close.

The other horse I like, Bright Legend, is a bit more left-field but he represents good value at a huge price. Denis Hogan is a target trainer and looks to have primed this four-year-old for a big run at the festival. I thought he ran an extremely eyecatching race behind Lark In The Mornin and Pigeon House two runs back and performed admirably from the front last time. He’s now better off with Eagle Fang and should be ridden colder.

Selections: Ndaawi @ 9/1 & Bright Legend @ 33/1

National Hunt Novices’ Chase (5.30 Cheltenham) 

Hopefully Emmet Mullins will provide us with a winning end to day one as I like Corbetts Cross in the finale. He was strongly fancied to win the Albert Bartlett 12 months ago and was bang there with a chance when running out at the final hurdle. This is now a redemption mission. 

His novice chasing season hasn’t gone entirely to plan so far, but you can put a line through his latest start when he was cannoned into as he jumped which gave him no chance of standing up. I thought he was pretty impressive when winning at Fairyhouse in December and I like the step up in trip for him.

Embassy Gardens is a worthy opponent, but he was readily shrugged aside by Corbetts Cross coming down the hill last year and, unless you think he has improved massively in the interim, the runner in the green and gold looks the most logical winner.

Selections: Corbetts Cross @ 2/1

Cheltenham Festival Tuesday Tips

Jeriko Du Reponet (1.30 Cheltenham) @ 8/1 & 18/1 antepost
Hunters Yarn (2.10 Cheltenham) @ 13/2
Meetingofthewaters (2.50 Cheltenham) @ 9/2
Lossiemouth (4.10 Cheltenham) @ 8/13
Ndaawi (4.50 Cheltenham) @ 9/1
Bright Legend (4.50 Cheltenham) @ 33/1
Corbetts Cross (5.30 Cheltenham) @ 2/1

Latest Cheltenham Festival Odds

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