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2023 Cheltenham Festival Tips - Will these five favourites do the business?

Last updated: 10 Jan 2023
Luke Parkinson 10 Jan 2023
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  • Five tips for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival
  • This year's Cheltenham Festival begins on Tuesday 14th March
  • We assess the chances of the five shortest-priced favourites in the current Cheltenham betting
  • It could be worth taking on both Facile Vega and Jonbon on day one
Paul Townend riding Energumene clear the last to win The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. (Getty)

The excitement continues to build ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and ante-post punters continue to sink their teeth into the meeting’s major markets.

As always with the Festival, the battle with the bookies revolves around the fate of a number of short-priced favourites and the layers will be hoping they can get some top talent turned over in March.

The likes of Facile Vega, Constitution Hill and Galopin Des Champs are all likely to head to Prestbury Park at short odds but how many of this year’s favourites are bankers and which ones should backers be avoiding? Here are our early Cheltenham Festival tips.

2023 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tips

  • Blowout – FACILE VEGA
  • Selection – MARINE NATIONALE

Much of the excitement around this season’s novice hurdling division revolves around the unbeaten Facile Vega and the son of Quevega was already a short price for the Supreme following his Cheltenham and Punchestown bumper successes last year. If there wasn’t already enough hype ahead of his hurdling debut in December, then Willie Mullins certainly left ante post punters purring when he praised the son of Quevega in his stable tour two months ago.

An excited Mullins admitted that “over the past few years I haven't seen a horse that I'm looking forward to as much as Facile Vega” and his imperious display when making it 2/2 in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle in December went some way to explaining the buzz around the yard.

Despite looking less assured in his jumping at Leopardstown, his credentials are there for all to see, and Mullins will know it will take something special to beat him in March. Few in the ante post betting for the 2023 Supreme Novices' Hurdle look like they will even be able to get the favourite off the bridle but Barry Connell’s MARINE NATIONALE is a mighty prospect who has more than enough ability to serve it up to the market leader.

The 5/1 shot was a striking winner on both of his bumper starts last year and rumours about him catching pigeons on the gallops were proven to be true when he won on his hurdle debut at Punchestown and battled to win the Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle most recently.

The strong-travelling five-year-old jumped well at Fairyhouse and, perhaps more importantly, came off the bridle for the first time in his career to hold off the challenge of the well-regarded Irish Point. His ability to knuckle down and fight from a standing start was a trait that his followers will have been delighted to see and Connell will know there is much more to come.

There looks to be too much of a discrepancy in Facile Vega and Marine Nationale’s odds and, whilst the favourite heads to Cheltenham the one to beat, the presence of the latter makes the Festival’s first favourite a blowout in the betting.

Facile Vega is worth taking on in the Supreme Novices Hurdle. (Getty)

2023 Arkle Novices' Chase Tips

  • Blowout – JONBON
  • Selection – DYSART DYNAMO

Ante post punters were handed an early Christmas present in November when a certain Irish bookie paid out on Jonbon winning the 2023 Arkle Challenge Trophy before he’d even jumped a fence. The Irish bookmaker was clearly one of many who heard the strong vibes coming out of Nicky Henderson’s yard and Jonbon’s back-to-back victories at Warwick and Sandown suggest the operator might have called this one right.

His most recent success in the Henry VII Novices’ Chase was a demonstration of all the ability that has made him a fans favourite in recent years. A high cruising speed, a taking turn of foot and the ability to make every yard lit up Sandown last month and he shortened even further in the Arkle betting after his emphatic success.

Like Facile Vega he heads to Cheltenham with ante post punters firmly on side, but he too looks set to face the challenge of a potential superstar in the making.

Willie Mullins’ enigmatic DYSART DYNAMO has developed a reputation for being somewhat unreliable after the headstrong seven-year-old fell in the 2022 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and tailed off at Punchestown at the backend of last season. However, the team at Closutton have always retained the faith and the hugely talented inmate leapt to the forefront of the Arkle betting with a relentless display of quality jumping on his chase debut over the Christmas period.

Dysart Dynamo unsurprisingly powered clear from the pack in the early stages of the race and put on a sparkling display in the Leopardstown beginners’ contest. The free-going front runner showed that his huge engine is anything but unreliable and he displayed all the qualities that would suggest he should be much closer to Jonbon in the betting. 

Another exciting Arkle awaits but the presence of Dysart Dynamo, along with exciting stablemate El Fabiolo, means that Jonbon-backers could be in for a difficult opening day at the Festival and the favourite rates blowout material.

2023 Champion Hurdle Tips


Few horses will head to Prestbury Park this March with as much pressure on their shoulders as Nicky Henderson’s CONSTITUTION HILL.

The unbeaten Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hero made it 5-5 under rules when he thrashed former Champion Hurdle winner Epatante for the second time in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day and that success saw him shorten to a best-priced 4/11 for back-to-back Festival victories. It would take a brave man to lay such an exceptional talent when he lines up in this year’s Champion Hurdle.

The superstar has one of the biggest engines we have seen on the track for some time and we are yet to really see the peak of his powers despite 17l, 12l, 22l and 12l Grade One victories in his last four races. Much has been made of his rating already surpassing the likes of Faugheen and Hurricane Fly but if he doesn’t deserve to be ahead of them now then a huge performance at Cheltenham will surely cement his position as one of the greats.

Racing fans let out a sigh of relief on Sunday when connections of Honeysuckle confirmed that the mare will head to the Champion Hurdle for a mouth-watering clash with the favourite but even Henry de Bromhead will know that his stable star will need to make a Lazarus-like comeback to get near the long-time market leader.

Constitution Hill looks to be the star attraction at this year’s meeting and punters can expect him to put on a sensational show and confirm why he is the banker of the meeting.

Nico de Boinville riding Constitution Hill to an easy victory in The Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park. (Getty)

2023 Champion Chase Tips

  • Banker – ENERGUMENE

Racings fans were robbed of the much-anticipated ‘clash of the meeting’ when Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin was pulled up in last year’s Champion Chase and left Willie Mullins’ Energumene to capitalise in style.

ENERGUMENE has dominated the division ever since and was cut from 6/4 in to 8/11 to retain his title in March after his facile success in the Hilly Way at Cork on his seasonal reappearance.

The Tony Bloom-owned French import has everything you would want to see from a Champion Chaser. He can be ridden from the front or off the pace, his jumping is tidy and economical, and he has shown how swiftly he can put races to bed in top class company over the course of his career. He has a frightening cocktail of attributes in his arsenal and only the once-mighty Shishkin has been good enough to beat him over the larger obstacles.

The case for Energumene is there for all to see but worryingly for his layers the only challenge in the ante post market looks to be coming from Alan King’s Arkle and Tingle Creek winner Edwardstone.

There is no doubt that Edwardstone deserves to be second favourite for the prestigious contest and he has been underrated on many occasions throughout his career but his clumsy tumble in Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas only cemented Energumene’s price in the Champion Chase betting.

Punters will hope that Edwardstone has the ability to really serve it up to the favourite and give us the showdown that Shishkin couldn’t manage 12 months ago but Energumene rightly sits at the head of the market and he rates banker material.

2023 Triumph Hurdle Tips

  • Banker – LOSSIEMOUTH

The Triumph Hurdle represents another Cheltenham Grade One contest with a Willie Mullins-trained favourite and bookmakers will be hoping they can avoid a calamitous day at the hands of the legendary handler. In 2022 the Closutton genius emerged with an unprecedented ten winners at the meeting and landed a memorable 1,518-1 five-timer on the final day.

If Mullins is going to enjoy similar success this March then his loyal following will be hoping that LOSSIEMOUTH can get them off to a flyer on day four. The Ricci-owned daughter of Great Pretender will be sporting the same colours as the mighty Vautour, Annie Power and Douvan and, although she has some way to go to run to their level, she looks to hold all the aces against this field.

The French-bred recruit has looked all class on her two starts so far this season and she handed the talented Zarak The Brave a beating on her seasonal debut in December. Connections moved quickly to follow that up over the Christmas period and she impressed further when cruising to victory in a Grade Two at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.

The way she thrashed stablemate Gala Marceau will have left her Triumph Hurdle rivals trembling and her relentless galloping style looks certain to suit Cheltenham. In the aftermath of her latest victory Mullins was keen to point out that there is a lot more to come from Lossiemouth and she looks set to head to HQ an unbeaten horse.

As always with the Triumph there could be an improving horse that emerges from the pack to lay down the challenge to the favourite but the Irish are right to invest their faith in Mullins’ mare and she rates banker material.

Paul Townend riding Galopin Des Champs clear the last to win The Ladbrokes Novice Chase at Leopardstown. (Getty)

2023 Gold Cup Tips


Willie Mullins has a plethora of top class talent showcasing their skills on his gallops but it is GALOPIN DES CHAMPS that will be drawing most of his attention over the coming weeks.

The seven-year-old heads to Prestbury Park a 7/4 favourite for the Gold Cup and his recent victory in the John Durkan at Punchestown would suggest that the market has him in the right place. The Grade One success sent out a clear warning on both sides of the Irish Sea and was proof that Galopin Des Champs has returned better than ever this season.

His free-going style combined with his bold, sometimes exuberant, jumping technique is a sight to behold and he didn’t make a semblance of a mistake on his return. It was confirmation that the mishap that cost him victory in the 2022 Turners’ Novices’ Chase was a minor blip in what is rapidly becoming a formidable career.

The market has long been aware of his supreme talent, but it was the Boylesports Gold Cup in April that remarkably saw him nudge A Plus Tard out of favouritism in the ante post betting. A cosy 18 length victory there was enough to alert Festival favourite-backers and the money has been coming thick and fast ever since.

Mullins will know that it won’t be so plain sailing this March and there will be a strong challenge from all fronts. It was impossible not to be blown away by A Plus Tard’s romp in the race last year, L’Homme Presse should be forgiven his King George fall and Minella Indo will be back to regain his title. They all demand maximum respect but even at the peak of their powers it might be too much when they go head-to-head with Galopin Des Champs.

Until Al Boum Photo ended Mullins’ Gold Cup hoodoo in 2019 it wasn’t a race that had been particularly kind to the master trainer, but he will certainly be looking forward to it this year. He heads to HQ with a horse capable of dominating the division for years to come and Galopin Des Champs is one of the bankers of the meeting.

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