A number of horses took to the track at Leopardstown last weekend, which gave us some indications as to who the favourites may be ahead of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival.
The much anticipated and highly anticipated 2024 Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner, with the four days of enthralling racing action set to get underway on Tuesday 12th March, with the action coming to a close on Friday 15th March 2024 at Cheltenham Racecourse.
With a history stretching back to 1860, the Cheltenham Festival is full of history and heritage. Many jockeys have made history over the years, one of whom is the legendary Ruby Walsh, who has collected no less than 59 victories in total at Cheltenham throughout his career, with Barry Geraghty second on 43. Tony McCoy is third with 31 wins.
There are also a number of prestigious races that take place over the course of those four days, with the most iconic arguably being the Gold Cup, which takes place on the final day of the festival – this year, Gold Cup Day will be on Friday, 15th March 2024.
Pat Taaffe is the jockey with the most wins in the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with no less than four to his name. His wins came with Arkle in 1964, 1965 and 1966, with him adding a fourth win with Fort Leney in 1968.
We now fast forward to 2024, where, at the time of writing, preparation is continuing ahead of the start of this year’s Cheltenham Festival. From the McCann Fitzgerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle to the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup, there were a number of races at Leopardstown last weekend that may have given us a strong indication as to who to look out for at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival in March of this year.
Here, we will look at 3 horses that caught the eye at Leopardstown last week, and they are in no particular order.
The first horse you should keep your eye on is Storm Heart, a French horse who Willie Mullins trains.
Recent form is also in favour of Storm Heart. Ahead of Leopardstown, the horse had participated in the Tote.ie 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown on 31st December 2023, before then racing in the McGann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle. At Punchestown, Storm Heart won the race ahead of the likes of Mark Walsh’s Jeaniemacaroney (2nd Place) and Tom Harney’s Eagles Reign.
In the McCann FitzGerald Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown, Storm Heart came second, just behind Danny Mullins’ Kargese, in early February 2024.
Galopin Des Champs
Next on this list is Galopin Des Champs, who took part in the 2024 Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup Chase at Leopardstown last weekend (3rd February 2024). Living up to the pre-race favourites tag, jockey Paul Townend rode his horse to a relatively comfortable victory ahead of James Slevin’s Fastorslow and Jody McGarvey’s I Am Maximus, who ended the race in second and third place, respectively. Willie Mullins’ horse had managed to retain the Irish Gold Cup that was won in 2023.
Even before this, Galopin Des Champs had already shown some form ahead of Leopardstown with an emphatic win in the Savills Chase at Christmastime in 2023.
The final horse that you should keep an eye on is Ballyburn, who, at Leopardstown last weekend, participated in the Tattersalls Ireland 50th Derby Sale Novice Hurdle on Sunday, 4th February 2024. It was a race that saw jockey Paul Townend lead Ballyburn to an eye-catching victory ahead of Slade Steel and King Of Kingsfield, who finished in second and third place, respectively.
Ballyburn had won the most recent race before that, also at Leopardstown, back on 29th December 2023. It was the Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle, which Townend led Ballyburn to the win ahead of Jack Kennedy’s Cleatus Poolaw in second place and Michael O’Sullivan’s Apple’s Of Bresil, who was the final horse in this race’s top three.
Excitement and anticipation is building ahead of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, which is set to take place from Tuesday 12th March to Friday 15th March 2024 at the iconic Cheltenham Racecourse.
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