Cross Country Chase Betting Tips 2024 – Cheltenham Festival Day 2

Cheltenham accumulator tips

Our 2024 Cross Country betting tips come from Ciaran Murphy and we have got a win and each-way bet for the day 2 race on Wednesday 13th March.

It is run over about three miles and six furlongs and there are 32 obstacles to be jumped, it is often taken on by horses who have ambitions to run in the Grand National.

The race was first run at the Cheltenham festival in 2005 when the Enda Bolger-trained Spot Thedifference won with JT McNamara on board and now it has become a high class race with former Gold Cup participants (and winners) taking part.


Cheltenham Festival Cross Country Preview 2024

The Glenfarclas Cross County Chase on Wednesday is another race that typifies the changes in the modern Cheltenham festival. First run in 2005, when the festival added a 4th day, it was run as a handicap up until 2016. In those first 11 runs, the average rating of the winner was 138.2. In the 8 renewals since, the winner has had an average official rating of 154.5. What was once the chance of the smaller trainer to shoot for glory, or indeed the likes of Enda Bolger to shine on the big stage (winning 4 of the first 5 renewals) has become like a testimonial for Grade 1 stars of the past. In fact, it could have been worse with Gordon Elliot for a long time seeming intent on running a 166-rated Conflated here, something that is still not impossible. 

The other thing to note is that while early season course and distance form is usually a big pointer to festival success, both Cross Country chases run on the course this season have been handicaps with runners such as Delta Work and Minella Indo having to give as much as 2 stone to some rivals (who are even then running out of the handicap). While it’s nice to see a horse you fancy for March taking to the course well, the literal form of these races must be viewed with a handful of salt.

In addition to the clear upgrade in Class, some other trends of note since 2016 when the race became an open chase:

  • The favourite has never finished outside the first 3 (4 Wins)
  • The winner has not been a horse outside the first 3 in the betting
  • 7 of 8 winners have been aged 8-11 (Easysland was 6)
  • Gordon Elliot has won 6 of the last 7 renewals (if we count him as the trainer of Tiger Roll during his suspension)
  • 15 of the 19 winners had raced over the course and distance that season

Considering this information, starting anywhere else other than the top of the market seems rather pointless. With every relevant horse also being entered in the Grand National and given that the weights were announced yesterday, I will be giving the Official Rating (OR) awarded to that horse for that race.

Given Gordon Elliot’s outstanding record in the race, it would have been surprising at the start of the year that the current ante-post favourite doesn’t represent the Cullentra stable. Instead, that horse is former Gold Cup winner Minella Indo (OR 157) for Henry de Bromhead. After being completely outpaced in last year’s Gold Cup, connections identified the Cross Country route early, and after being given a couple of starts in graded chases early in the campaign (winning 1), he is at the head of the market based on a very eye-catching run over C&D at the December meeting where he was only 5 lengths behind Latenightpass giving him 20 lbs. There was a lot to like about his run and at one point, approaching the last, it looked like he was coming to win before the weight told and he faded into 4th. It is easy to see him running a big race although at 11/4, he may not get much shorter in an ultra-competitive race.

Next up in the Betting is two-time Defending Champ Delta Work (OR 157), probably one of the only winners who has ever been booed into the parade ring when he broke the hearts of Tiger Roll fans when downing the Tiger in the final strides of the 2022 contest. A two-time winner, he clearly loves the course and this is undoubtedly his season’s target. He had his sighter in the November meeting, but he was 17 lengths behind Latenightpass giving a similar weight away as Minella Indo and so on a line through that horse, he has plenty to find with the favourite. I also think he may be more ground-dependent than others, with soft ground being key to his chances. One major plus however is that he is likely to have the services of Jack Kennedy in the plate.

The next 3 in the betting are also trained by Gordon Elliot. Conflated (OR 166) would be the highest rated in the field if he were to show up here and would take all the beating in my opinion. He would have to defy a lack of experience over the course but in my opinion, is the one horse here who is not on the decline, something which would help to negate that stat. However, given trainer and owner comments, he looks destined for the Ryanair (see our 2024 Ryanair Chase betting tips here) and so, I will look elsewhere. 

With this likely defection, the highest rated horse in the field would actually be Coko Beach (OR 161), who at 9 years old is a relative baby in this sphere and seemed to take well to Cross Country style fences at Punchestown. One major negative is that he has never run over the Cheltenham banks, whilst he would also be inconvenienced by better ground (although less so than Delta Work in my opinion). However, he is a bold front running grey and anyone who trusts him to carry their money will be assured a good run for their stake. 

Galvin (OR 155) comes into consideration based on a very impressive prep in the Boyne Hurdle where he had Delta Work 10 Lengths behind on ground that wouldn’t have been ideal. While he had seemed regressive in the November meeting, beaten 6 lengths in receipt of 6 pounds from that same rival, if he has returned to form, and if the ground was to come up good on the day, I would give him every chance of reversing the form of the 2L defeat in this race last year. 

Also worth a mention are the two winners of this season’s C&D races. Latenightpass (OR 149) has been talked up in the places but with up to 12 lbs to find on some rivals, I can’t see him figuring in the places, especially given the record of English horses in the race. The same cannot be said for Foxy Jacks (OR 157) who has been given a substantial rise from the mark that he won off at the November meeting. If Coko Beach is the solid, give you a run for your money everyday type, Foxy Jacks is the polar opposite; an absolute enigma in every sense who on his day is as talented as any in the field but is as impossible to predict as Constitutions Hill’s next run. Another Caveat is that he is also qualified for the Pertemps Final, where he is currently 40th on the list for the race (only 24 can run). I have seen no indication of preference so a NRNB concession or waiting until Declarations is advised if playing. He would also have to be the first winner to come from outside the top 3 in the betting. 

Follow Ciaran on Twitter for more Cheltenham 2024 tips.


Cross Country Tip

Verdict: A strong case can be made for any of the top 4 in the market, and given that the ground is such a huge factor for the hopes of so many, I will be holding fire at the head of the market. If conditions look like turning up soft, I would favour Coko Beach whereas if it looked like being a sounder surface, Galvin would be my play. But either way, I won’t be leaving FOXY JACKS go unbacked at 12/1 EW (NRNB)

FOXY JACK – 12/1 with Coral who are NRNB for this race.

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Cross Country Chase Trends

  • Age – 11 of the last 12 winners have been aged 8 or older.
  • Price – 2 of the last 12 favorites/joint favorites have won, 9/12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting.
  • Last Run – 4/12 winners won on their last run before the Glenfarcas Cross Country Chase, 7/12 winners ran within the last 46 days.
  • 4/12 winners ran in the Cross Country Handicap Chase (Cheltenham) on their last run, 1 of the 4 won. 0 placed.
  • Previous Course Form – 11/12 winners had at least 1 previous run at Cheltenham, 8/12 winners had at least 1 previous win at Cheltenham.
  • Previous Distance Form – 11/12 winners had at least 1 run over 30 furlongs, 5/12 winners had at least 1 win over 30 furlongs.
  • Previous Hurdle Form – 10/12 winners had at least 8 runs over hurdles, 11/12 winners had at least 1 win over hurdles.
  • Previous Chase Form – 10/12 winners had at least 13 previous chase runs, 10/12 winners had at least 2 previous chase wins.
  • Rating – 10/12 winners had a rating of 136 or higher.
  • Season Form – 9/12 winners had at least 3 runs that season, 7/12 winners had at least 1 win that season.


Cheltenham Day 2 Tips

1.30pm - Baring Bingham Novices' HurdlePredators Gold (ew)10/1 Bet
2.10pm - Brown Advisory Novice ChaseFact to File10/11
2.50pm - Coral CupGuard Your Dreams (ew)25/1
Brazil (ew)16/1
3.30pm - Queen Mother Champion ChaseEl Fabiolo double with Ballyburn (1.30pm)5/4
4.10pm - Cross Country ChaseCoko Beach4/1
4.50pm - Grand Annual ChaseLiberty Hunter (ew)13/2
5.30pm - Champion BumperC’est Ta Chance (ew)16/1
Cantico (ew)12/1