Cheltenham December Gold Cup | Super Scottish holding leading Irish hopes

Cheltenham Festival 2024

Anytime action is on at Prestbury Park, the weekend is always an enjoyable one and that doesn’t change for this year’s Cheltenham December Gold Cup meeting.

Yesterday saw a potential winner of the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle strut her stuff on her maiden outing at the course while the Glenfarclas Crystal Cup Cross Country Handicap Chase revealed a potential Grand National horse.

Before we start talking about today’s fancies, a quick word should go to the ground conditions on day one of the Cheltenham Christmas meeting as times from the first three races suggested the course was in great nick.

The overall times weren’t too far off standard and although they did slow up throughout the day, a dry night could suggest the course is riding just a small bit quicker than the official going of soft.

Anyway, with a big day of action ahead of us, here are my main plays.


1:15 Cheltenham – Aucunrisque @ 9/2 with BetVictor – 1pt Win

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The mid-week money came for In Excelsis Deo at the head of the market, and although he should be given good consideration, I thought Chris Gordon’s Aucunrisque could be the forgotten horse of the afternoon.

Last season’s Betfair Hurdle winner mixed between hurdles and fences last season, with Gordon keen to make use of both handicap marks in the different disciplines.

So, while his hurdles mark rose to 147 after his Newbury success, his chase mark remained at 144 and even received a two-pound drop after last month’s fifth in the Jim Barry Hurst Park Handicap Chase.

Although a rating of 142 is four pounds above his last winning mark, the seven-year-old has good form in the book to suggest he could still win off a lenient mark.

Last season’s campaign began with a novice chase success over Jetoile at Uttoxeter, form that looks good as the runner-up has improved 20lbs thanks to three victories, one of which was in the Old Roan Chase.

After that, he finished second off 138 to Frere D’Armes at Newbury, a race that saw the third, Datsalrightgino, win the Coral Gold Cup subsequently and the fifth, Balco Coastal, finish second to Gerri Colombe in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase in February.

One month later, Aucunrisque finished a good second to Boothill in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase before his Betfair Hurdle success in the new year.

One run over fences and one run over hurdles this season should have him race fit for today’s task.


1:50 Cheltenham – So Scottish @ 9/2 with William Hill – 1pt Win

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All week, So Scottish has been my main hope for the December Gold Cup, and as of this morning, the money has come for him.

6/1 is now just a memory as bookies have squeezed the six-year-old into 9/2 and 4/1, and you can see why.

Emmet Mullins’ improving Martaline gelding disappointed at the backend of last season, but before his average seventh in the Plate at the Cheltenham Festival, he ran well when second to Boothill (then rated 140, now rated 18lbs higher) over 2m1f.

Prior to that run, he won over 2m4f at Carlisle and thrashed Railway Hurricane, who reopposes today, at Tipperary in October 2022.

With a run under his belt at Gowran Park on heavy ground, he should prefer the step up in trip and good racing ground, so hopefully, he can make use of his lenient 141 rating.

However, he isn’t the only one I’m backing in the December Gold Cup.


1:50 Cheltenham – Do Your Job @ 28/1 with William Hill – 0.5pt EW

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In case he is ready to win off a very attractive mark, I’m having a saver on Do Your Job at a big price each way.

The nine-year-old has disappointed on his last five runs, though the form of his victory at Ayr in the Grade 2 Future Champion Novices’ Chase in 2022 looks very good.

The second, Minella Drama, has officially improved 11lbs since, and Il Ridoto, a general 8/1 chance for today’s feature contest, was back in third.

Furthermore, he got to within 10 lengths of Edwardstone in the 2021 Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase, a race that had the now 149-rated Solo back in third.

If you completely discount last season, Lucinda Russell’s Fame And Glory gelding looks well-handicapped off 136 and the New Course test of Prestbury Park over 2m4f should suit well.


3:00 Cheltenham – Moon D’Orange @ 12/1 with BetVictor – 1pt EW

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Finally, for the main selections, I’m taking a chance that Moon D’Orange could take a big step up on his first start in Graded company.

The five-year-old has progressed nicely for John McConnell, who is finally finding some form, since his fourth in a 2m4f maiden hurdle at Leopardstown on December 28th, a race that was won by Henry de Bromhead’s Deep Cave with Lot Of Joy and Firm Footings filling the places.

Fast-forward to this season and after an unseating at Galway, he ran a great race to finish second to the exciting Johnnywho at Carlisle in November with Whistle Stop Tour, an 18-length novice hurdle winner, back in third.

Having stepped up in trip on his latest start, the Spanish Moon gelding rallied for pressure despite idling slightly on the run to the winning post; as such, connections have reached for the first-time cheekpieces today.

In a race that isn’t a vintage renewal, McConnell could have another chance to land a pre-Festival Cheltenham winner, something he did with ease last season.



Over at Hereford, Lime Avenue looks ready to win at 9/4 on his second start in handicap company (1:35). Better ground is key for him and Angus Cheleda claims a valuable five pounds in the saddle. 1pt Win.

In the 2:25 at Cheltenham, Malina Girl at 6/1 could be a potential Grand National horse and although she has an extra 11 pounds to carry today, the five-pound claim of Conor Stone-Walsh will negate some of that. She was impressive last time out and the ground should be fine. 1pt EW.

Finally, in the last, Nurse Susan at 13.2 holds plenty of appeal in a handicap off 125. She had a big break between her fourth at in the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2022 and her reappearance at Exeter last month, but a return to hurdles should suit and she will now be race fit. Dan Skelton rates her highly and could be useful off 125. 1pt Win

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