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

12 March 2024

One day down, three to go. No matter whether you got off to a winning or losing start, there are plenty of opportunities remaining this week to bolster your returns and end on a high.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the headline event on Wednesday and trainer Willie Mullins will look to strengthen his grip on the trainer’s title with several live chances across the afternoon. A few of his horses will unsurprisingly find themselves on my bet slips! Here are my selections for day two.  

Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle (1.30 Cheltenham) 

I originally liked Ile Atlantique here for Willie Mullins, but I had to change my way of thinking after he rerouted star novice Ballyburn to the race. On official figures Ballyburn has 7lb in hand on his nearest rival (Predators Gold) and 8lb in hand of the aforementioned Ile Atlantique. Those without marks don’t look capable of playing a part in the finish. 

Figures can only be trusted so much with novice hurdlers, but Ballyburn is open to as much progression as anything else in the field and he doesn’t even need to step forward to take this prize based on his recent Leopardstown success. He was extremely impressive that day and looked like a future champion.

Ballyburn is a very short price, so he probably won’t be for everyone from a punting perspective, but he is highly likely to take the newly-named 2m5f novice contest and could be the ideal candidate for a Mullins accumulator.

 Selection: Ballyburn @ 2/5

Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (2.10 Cheltenham)

This is my NAP of the festival - I love Fact To File. I pinpointed this seven-year-old as my novice chaser to follow prior to the season starting in the SBK Ultimate Jumps Podcast despite the fact that he had only run in bumpers at that point of his career and he has delivered in spades so far. 

He seemed to need the run on chase debut behind American Mike in November and it’s worth noting that the Gordon Elliott team was flying at that point of the campaign (41 winners in the month for a 24% strike-rate) while Willie Mullins was just getting going. Fact To File made amends with an emphatic display over Christmas before sauntering clear of Gaelic Warrior last time.

People may say that it was just a two-horse race and his only rival didn’t perform, but they rattled around (it wasn’t a tactical affair) and he flew up the run-in without being asked for any kind of effort. I think he’s pretty special and I struggle to see him being beaten with a clean round of jumping.

Selection: Fact To File @ 4/6

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (2.50 Cheltenham) 

The Coral Cup is always a tough puzzle to solve and it’s no real surprise that it has been a great race for the bookmakers over the last decade with just one winning favourite and seven victors going off between 12/1 and 50/1.  

This year’s renewal features a couple of hyped horses in the form of Sa Majeste and Langer Dan. The latter is such a frustrating animal because he only seems to be primed for this meeting every year and again comes into the festival with little recent form to go off, while the former is too short in the market to consider due to his hurdling inexperience.

Ballyadam and Guard Your Dreams are interesting at big odds, as is Lucky Place despite the ground being against him, but I’m going to bet both of Gordon Elliott’s horses in this year’s renewal. The apparent first string is Jigoro, who bolted up in a heavy ground maiden hurdle at Navan before Christmas and has bumped into Supreme runners Mystical Power and Tullyhill since. He’s very raw but a mark of 141 could underestimate his talents. 

Stablemate Western Fold doesn’t have as sexy a profile, but he too boasts plenty of form on testing ground and sauntered away from a well-handicapped type in D Art D Art last time. He will need to prove that he stays and he has had jumping issues this season, but he’s interesting at a big price.

Selection: Jigoro @ 14/1 & Western Fold @ 43/1

Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30 Cheltenham)

Leg three of the Willie Mullins acca? El Fabiolo, who is unbeaten in six chase starts, should be super tough to beat in this year’s Champion Chase. He has been virtually untouchable since switching disciplines with no rival getting within four lengths of him and this has always been his target. 

El Fabiolo fended off Jonbon with ease in the Arkle last year and, although that rival seeks his revenge here, his jumping has all-but gone to pot recently and he will need to be right at his very best to even challenge the jolly. Much like Ballyburn earlier on the card, El Fabiolo is a short price but rightly so.

Selection: El Fabiolo @ 1/2

Glenfarclas Chase (4.10 Cheltenham) 

Some people like the Cross-Country Chase but I don’t. It still seems crazy to me that this event isn’t a handicap.

I’m not going to dwell on this much. Delta Work is interesting with blinkers on, Galvin and Stattler have class, as does former Gold Cup and Albert Bartlett winner Minella Indo. I don’t care about this event and won’t be having a bet in it! 

Selection: N/A

Grand Annual Handicap Chase (4.50 Cheltenham)

The first of two tricky affairs as we approach half-time at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Bookmakers go 7/1 the field here with Libberty Hunter, Saint Roi and Harper’s Brook at the top of the market. The former comes here fresh after a taking course success in December, Saint Roi has solid graded form, while Harper’s Brook gets headgear fitted after jogging home at Sandown. 

I’ve listed the positives for the market leaders there, but the cons are that Saint Roi and Harper’s Brook are far from trustworthy while Libberty Hunter has done his winning in small fields on very testing ground. I want to look elsewhere.

Sa Fureur is interesting, as is Path D’Oroux with a new headgear combination, but I’m backing last year’s winner Maskada to retain her crown. She was emphatic when smashing the talented Dinoblue 12 months ago and has been aimed here ever since. Her three subsequent starts have come in black type races and she now drops back into handicap company off a mark of 150. 

Selections: Maskada @ 11/1

Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.30 Cheltenham) 

 Willie Mullins has nine runners in the Champion Bumper and it’s very tough to decipher which is his most likely winner. Punters will focus on jockey bookings, but that hasn’t been the best guide in recent years with his last four winners being ridden by different pilots.

I’m going to take a shot on C’Est Ta Chance coming out on top for the master of Closutton. I liked how this son of Elm Park powered through his race on debut at Navan and, although he was beaten by a short head, the winner has recently come out and boosted the form by dotting up by five lengths. He’s overlooked in the market and is worth a few quid.

The other runner that catches my eye is Romeo Coolio, who cost £420,000 after his decisive point-to-point success and maintained his unbeaten record when successful on bumper debut in January. He was forced to make much of his own running in that affair, so I think you can mark up the display, and he’s open to plenty of improvement for trainer Gordon Elliott. 

Selections: Romeo Coolio @ 12/1 & C’Est Ta Chance @ 16/1

Cheltenham Festival Wednesday Tips

Ballyburn (1.30 Cheltenham) @ 2/5
Fact To File (2.10 Cheltenham) @ 4/6
Jigoro (2.50 Cheltenham) @ 14/1
Western Fold (2.50 Cheltenham) @ 43/1
El Fabiolo (3.30 Cheltenham) @ 1/2
Maskada (4.50 Cheltenham) @ 11/1
Romeo Coolio (5.30 Cheltenham) @ 12/1
C’Est Ta Chance (5.30 Cheltenham) @ 16/1

Latest Cheltenham Odds

We use cookies to manage user login sessions, enhance user experience, perform essential site operations and tailor advertising and other content to reflect your specific interests. By clicking "I Accept" you consent to the use of cookies and similar technologies for the purposes we outline in our Cookie Policy.