Cheltenham 2024 | Festival Focus 2024: Cross-Country & Hunters

Can a former Gold Cup winner go Cross-Country?  Is there an overpriced horse going hunting on Friday? We take a deep dive into the more unique races of the Festival.


Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase – 3m 6F 37yds – Class 2

Embed from Getty Images

Gordon Elliott has, technically, won this race six times. And with only three horses; Cause Of Causes, Tiger Roll and Delta Work.

But the favourite is a newcomer to cross country chasing, Minella Indo. The 2021 winner of the Gold Cup just wasn’t himself in the past two renewals of the Blue Riband race. He got a sighting of the cheese wedges when coming fourth in the Crystal Cup. Now on level weights, he could roll back the years.

Embed from Getty Images

Two-time winner Delta Work hasn’t had the greatest of seasons. He was way behind in the Cross-Country Handicap Chase in November and has failed to place all season. If he managed a better performance under top weight in November, he may have been favourite.

Galvin was second in last year’s renewal and was ahead of Delta Work in Elliott’s usual prep race for the Cross-Country, the Boyne Hurdle. He improved in the Crystal Cup, but level weights could come to his rescue and could hit the frame again.

Embed from Getty Images

Coko Beach could hold a very live chance. He’s won two races this season, including the Troytown in November. He finished second in the Becher and first over the Cross-Country track at Punchestown, so he’s well-qualified. Apart from the lack of a Cheltenham win.


A former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner could have one last hurrah and upset the Elliott dominance. Minella Indo is a worthy favourite after showing promising signs in December. 15/8 (William Hill, 888Sport, BetUK).

Each-way: Coko Beach has been placed at the Festival, way back in 2019. With an excellent season behind him and a win over the Cross-Country track at Punchestown he could continue the Gigginstown trend in the race. 9/2 (General).

Reverse Forecast: Minella Indo, Coko Beach


St. James’ Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase – 3m 2F 70yds – Class 2

Embed from Getty Images

The Gold Cup for amateurs is always an exciting race. Mostly because very few punters have an idea of these horses. But it can often spring a surprise, like 66/1 shot Premier Magic last year.

It’s On The Line has  never won a race by more than a length this season. However, Emmet Mullins is a master trainer and may have one of the best around.

Ferns Lock missed last season’s renewal, but his wins this season should give him a fighting chance in this year’s renewal. David Christie is one of the best Hunter/Point-to-Point chase trainers and is due a Festival winner.

Billaway is always interesting. He ran down Winged Leader, but just couldn’t replicate it last season, falling. He could have beaten It’s On The Line last time out at Naas, but was beaten by a head. Willie Mullins could get into double-figure winners with this race with a horse who’s tenacious and dependable.

Embed from Getty Images

Last year’s winner, Premier Magic is overpriced. Many feel he can follow up and is still unbeaten since 2021 and is a legend in the amateur game. He was dominant in last year’s race and can do it once again. Never underestimate a former winner.


Whilst he isn’t 66/1, Premier Magic is far better value than horse that hasn’t won by more than a length all season. 7/1 (William Hill, 888Sport, BetUK).

Each-way pick: Two winners have come at a price of 66/1. And it’s worth a shot at one at the price. Not many mares have won this race, but one has won at Cheltenham. Miss Seagreen won on the Hunter Chase evening last year but was only seen at Ludlow on reappearance. Could she have been aimed at this race? 66/1 (BetVictor, Unibet, BetUK).

Live Horse Racing Odds

Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.