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Cheltenham Festival 2024: Five things to look out for
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Enda McElhinney
Racing Post
The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest four days in the jump racing calendar
The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest four days in the jump racing calendar

- This year's Cheltenham Festival takes place from March 12-15
- Over 270,000 people are expected to descend on the Cotswolds for the four-day meeting
- King Of Kingsfield an interesting handicap runner

The Cheltenham Festival is starting to loom large on the horizon once again.

This year's four-day spectacle will take place from Tuesday, March 12 until Friday, March 15 as jump racing's biggest stars compete across 28 races on the hallowed Prestbury Park turf.

Among the highlights on offer are the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, the Stayers' Hurdle and, of course, the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

And as the biggest meeting of the National Hunt season draws ever nearer, here are five pointers for punters to consider.

Consider an accumulator

Long gone are the days of every race at the Cheltenham Festival being ferociously competitive, so it could pay to consider putting some favourites into an accumulator. 

Last year nine favourites or joint-favourites won at the Cheltenham Festival and a number of fancied runners could again do the business this year. 

So while backing horses at short prices on their own might not be lucrative, a multiple bet comprising a few favourites might pay off for punters.

We're all living in Willie's world

Willie Mullins won all eight Grade 1s at the recent Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown and he will again have his customary star-studded team in attendance at Prestbury Park.

Mullins has enjoyed 94 festival winners during his career and will be confident of becoming the first trainer to land a century of winners at the meeting in March. 

Ballyburn is one of Willie Mullins' big hopes for this year's Cheltenham Festival
Ballyburn is one of Willie Mullins' big hopes for this year's Cheltenham Festival

The master of Closutton has a number of ante-post favourites, and even when his first-sting doesn't fire Mullins invariably has a high-class alternative who could. 

It's very possible that we could see Mullins dominate proceedings once again.

Follow Elliott's horses in handicaps

Given Mullins' utter domination of jump racing's biggest prizes recently, it might pay to follow his Irish rival Gordon Elliott in the handicaps at this year's festival. 

Elliott won the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle last year with Jazzy Matty, and he has some potentially well-handicapped runners to do battle with this time around. 

One to keep a close eye on should he go down the handicap route is King Of Kingsfield, who is a strong traveller and will love being covered up in a big field.

Look out for fairytale storyline

Cheltenham is racing's theatre of dreams and every year we witness some incredibly emotional scenes. 

Last year, owner-trainer Barry Connell and young jockey Michael O'Sullivan teamed up to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle with Marine Nationale, The Real Whacker gave unheralded trainer Patrick Neville a first Grade 1 success, and Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle bounced back to win the Mares' Hurdle.

Don't underestimate Gavin Cromwell

Gavin Cromwell is the leading trainer at Cheltenham this season with seven winners from 19 runners at the track, a strike-rate of 37%. 

He won't have a huge number runners at the festival but it would be no surprise if he popped up with at least one winner, most likely in one of the handicaps.

Everything looks set for a very strong week for the Irish contingent. 

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