Potential Stars of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Festival
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The Cheltenham Festival has a habit of producing new stars in the sport, as the one week on the Jumps calendar where the best horses in each division show up bidding to win a major prize.

In recent years, Constitution Hill, Galopin Des Champs and El Fabiolo have all produced big performances at the festival. Here is a look at some horses that could see their names on the list, next to the biggest racing stars.

Il Est Francais

Unbeaten chaser Il Est Francais has a huge reputation in France, which he showcased recently in the UK. During the festive period , the chaser landed the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton. This contest has been the springboard to success for many novice chasers.

The six-year-old made all the running in the 3m contest at Kempton, in a stunning round of jumping. He stretched away from his rivals in the closing stages, scoring by 11 lengths, with highly regarded Hermes Allen settling for second place.

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After the race, his trainer, Noel George claimed the French Gold Cup at Auteuil in May is their primary goal for the season, but he isn’t ruling out an appearance at Cheltenham. He has an entry in the Turners Novices’ Chase where, as of the 17th of January, he is 8/1 in the Cheltenham Festival betting.

The French-based horse looks certain to be a King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup contender in the future. If he gets the opportunity to feature at this year’s Festival, it would be no surprise to see him produce the performance of the week. Whatever his connections decide to do, the future remains very bright for the horse, who is one of the most exciting chasers in training today.

Gerri Colombe

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the Blue Riband of the sport, as it is the most prestigious event across the season. This year’s field is set to include the leading 3m chasers in the UK and Ireland, including Galopin Des Champs, Bravemansgame and Shishkin. These three horses have lots of experience over fences, however, they face a new challenger this year in Gerri Colombe.

Trained by Gordon Elliott in Ireland, Gerri Colombe has won four Grade One races over the last couple of seasons. He began the latest campaign with victory in the Grade One Champion Chase at Down Royal. Elliott then opted to bypass the King George and focus on races in Ireland.

A lot was expected from Gerri Colombe at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. Unfotunately, he was denied victory in that race by a short head, with The Real Whacker landing the top prize. These two horses will renew their rivalry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and connections of the runner-up will be hopeful his horse can reverse the form.

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Marine Nationale

Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, Marine Nationale, is now in the novice chase division, with the Arkle Trophy his primary target at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival. He produced a stunning performance last March, swooping in late to land the curtain-raising event.

Barry Connell’s runner won all three of his starts over fences last season. However, based on the evidence of his chase debut, the horse could be even better jumping bigger obstacles. He broke his maiden at the first attempt in a beginners’ chase at Leopardstown back in December, scoring comfortably by just over eight lengths.

Marine Nationale is set to feature one more time before the Cheltenham Festival. He has an entry in the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival, but a decision is likely to be reported in the horse racing news at the declaration stage for the festival. If he does run, it will give him some extra experience over fences before his toughest test to date in the Arkle Trophy.

The seven-year-old is yet to put a foot wrong, and if he maintains this over the tried and tested distance of 2m, he could establish himself as one of the best chasers in modern history, putting himself alongside horses like Altior, Master Minded and Sprinter Sacre.

This year’s Cheltenham Festival takes place between March 12-15. A sell-out crowd is expected at Cheltenham Racecourse for all four days of the meeting.

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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse Ba Hons Marketing Management email: contact@everythinghorseuk.co.uk

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