Festival Fans
March 13, 2024

It was a good day for favourite backers at the Festival yesterday and the trend could easily continue today courtesy of Ballyburn, Fact To File and El Fabiolo, all of which are trained by Willie Mullins.

Value hunters like us will be looking to get at least one of them beaten and ground conditions do give some hope of an upset or two.


The opening race is now called the Gallagher Novices' Hurdle and we think Mullins could easily train the first three home here. A combination tri-cast covering his four runners could be an interesting angle, especially if the favourite gets beaten.

The two biggest threats to Ballyburn look to be PREDATORS GOLD and MERCUREY. This intermediate trip looks ideal for the former, whilst the latter should improve for going beyond 2 miles for the first time.


Fact Or File could easily be a Gold Cup winner in waiting, but the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase is always a tough test for novice chasers and a slog like this may not play to his strengths. 

He could win on the bridle, but he might also get outstayed up the hill, and we think the two outsiders in the field are way overpriced and worth an interest.

GIOVINCO was only just touched off by Stay Away Fay at Sandown in December and yet is a massive price compared to that rival here. He is very highly regarded by his excellent stable and won well on heavy ground last time out.

SANDOR CLEGANE also has form in the book with Stay Away Fay. He was third to that rival in last year’s Albert Bartlett, only beaten 1½ lengths. He looks a strong stayer and can pass plenty of these on the climb to the line and nick a place at least.


Next up is the day’s first big betting heat and it is no surprise to us to see BUILT BY BALLYMORE being heavily backed for the Coral Cup this morning. 

He looks to have been laid out for the race and appears well treated on his first venture into handicap company. He ticks plenty of boxes – he has won on heavy and has cheekpieces going on for the first time.

We also fancy two English runners.  First up is GUARD YOUR DREAMS who is dropping in class here. He is also stepping up in trip, which is likely to suit given how he has been staying on late in 2 mile contests recently.

MIGHT I is coming back hurdling after failing to convince with his jumping over the larger obstacles.  He was fourth in last year’s Martin Pipe Hurdle off of a 3lb higher mark.


With Jonbon out of the race, it isn’t easy to find an angle in the Champion Chase. One option might be to do a tri-cast without El Fabiolo in case the hot favourite blows out completely.

If Edwardstone, Elixir De Nutz and Gentleman De Mee decide to take each other on for the lead, they could easily go off too quickly on this bad ground. 

The race may then fall into El Fabiolo’s lap, but it might also pave the way for one of the long shots to hit the frame at decent odds and the most likely one is CAPTAIN GUINNESS

He may be just below Grade 1 standard, but at his best he is better than plenty of these and he has finished in the frame twice before at the Festival.


Plenty of the Irish runners in the Grand Annual have crossed swords in valuable handicaps at Leopardstown and Fairyhouse recently and of those we think SOLNESS is of most interest here.

He has a good swing in the weights with Madara based on the Leopardstown race and should handle conditions.

Best of the British contingent looks to be HARDY DU SEUIL, who ran well at Sandown last time when switching back to fences. 

He jumped a bit left handed that day, so may be even better going this way around. That was also his first run of the season and it should have put him spot on for today.


Unlike most years, there doesn’t seem to be a stand out Irish raider for this season’s Champion Bumper

There is obviously a lot of guesswork involved in trying to pinpoint the winner, but based on the limited evidence we have our three against the field are TEESHAN, QUEBECOIS and ARGENTO BOY.

Betting should always be considered a form of entertainment, never as a way to make long-term profit. Only bet with money that you can afford, and are willing, to lose. Any Festival tips posted on this website are our opinions only - please always gamble responsibly.