Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024: Take stock of 12/1 and 20/1 handicappers

 | February 27 | 

5 mins read

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There's just two weeks to go until the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, meaning this is my penultimate antepost column before the big event.

After the release of the weights for the handicaps, I'm adding another two to the book, which will be complete with one final selection next week.

Cheltenham Ante-Post Tips 2024

  • Bialystok @ 12/1 NRNB for the County Hurdle
  • Givemefive @ 20/1 NRNB for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Clearly I wasn't the only person who thought a rise of just one pound on Bialystok's Irish mark of 138 was an act of kindness by the British handicapper, as Willie Mullins' six-year-old was backed into 12/1 from 16/1 for the County Hurdle in less than a couple of hours following the release of the handicap weights on Tuesday afternoon.

I must admit, I've been feeling sorry for myself having missed out on that bigger price, but instead of sulking about it I've decided to focus on the positive - being the substantial amount of money that's been placed on him today.

I tipped the son of Zoffany at a fairly big price for a Listed handicap hurdle over the minimum trip - won by fellow Mullins/Rich Ricci inmate Gaelic Warrior last year - at the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this month and, after sustained support, he was brought down by a faller at the second-last when travelling menacingly.

It was too early to say if he'd have gone on to win the contest, but I remember feeling pretty confident in-running and I'm as sure as I can be that he'd have at least gone very close.

So, why is he a bigger price than stablemate Zenta, who finished third that day and will be six pounds worse off in the weights on that Friday of the Festival?

I also can't quite understand why there's such a difference between him and Gordon Elliott's King Of Kingsfield, who's vying for favouritism and has also been well-supported this morning due to his unchanged mark of 140, when there was only a length-and-a-half between the pair off level weights in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier this season.

I'm confident Bialystok, who is more than open to keep improving, has a big pot in him and hopefully that will be the County Hurdle.

The experience he gained in winning a similar event at the Punchestown Festival last spring will certainly help - and don't be surprised to see Paul Townend in the saddle, which would be a huge help. Failing that, Danny Mullins is no bad deputy as he reminded everyone at Leopardstown recently.

Bialystok to win the County Hurdle at 12-1

I'm stepping slightly out of my comfort zone for this next selection as I usually wouldn't entertain any horse winning at the Cheltenham Festival if they ran within the four weeks prior, but I've taken a liking to Givemefive, who ran excellently in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton last weekend, for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

I thought a tilt at the Triumph Hurdle was sure to be on the cards after his 18-length success at Warwick just over a month ago, but immediately after the race trainer Harry Derham said that while he would get an entry for the sake of it, the Boodles - otherwise known as the Fred Winter - was his target.

He also confirmed they would take in the Adonis beforehand, which is a big part of why I'm not as concerned as I normally would be about the quick turnaround. This is no after-thought.

Bar Sir Gino of course, I rate Paul Nicholls' Kalif Du Berlais as the best juvenile this side of the Irish Sea, so I thought it was a big performance by the selection to finish less than a length behind him the other day, even in receipt of five pounds.

Don't forget that the pair were over eight lengths clear of the 115-rated Captain Marvellous in third, who was well-supported in the market having won his previous race by a whopping 23L.

I think that form is strong and a rise of just three pounds, to a mark of 129, awarded to Givemefive as a result is more than fair, in my humble opinion.

The Boodles is a devilishly-tricky affair and there's bound to be a few lurkers in the field, but I fancy the selection is better-handicapped than the majority of his rivals and, providing the turnaround doesn't prove too much, he has a much greater chance than his odds suggest.

Givemefive to win the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at 20-1

Stay tuned to Betfred Insights for more Cheltenham Tips as we build-up to the 2024 Festival

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