Cheltenham Festival 2024: Returning Champions to Watch

Given the value of previous course form at the Cheltenham Festival, the returning champions always attract considerable attention. In 2024, nine of the 28 contests see the 2023 winner return to defend their crown. How many will succeed? Here we run through the nine champs going for more glory.

Langer Dan – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

Having finished sixth at the 2021 meeting and been brought down in 2022, this Dan Skelton springtime specialist made it a case of third time lucky in 2023 when winning the Coral Cup by a head. Getting in off the same rating of 141, he’s handicapped to go close.

Delta Work – Glenfarclas Chase

This Gordon Elliott inmate bids to become the first horse to win this Cross-Country event three years in succession. He likely won’t have it all his own way, with former Gold Cup winner Minella Indo in the field, but he is amongst the favourites once again.

Maskada – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase

This Henry De Bromhead mare provided yet another victory for Ireland when storming six lengths clear of the field in 2023. She’s eight pounds higher this time, but such was her superiority that it may not be enough to stop her.

Envoi Allen – Ryanair Chase

Envoi Allen has already established himself as a true Festival legend, with wins the Champion Bumper, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, and this event in 2023. As ever, the competition looks stiff, but Envoi Allen provides Rachael Blackmore with one of her best chances of success.

Sire Du Berlais – Stayers’ Hurdle

Sire Du Berlais is one of the most seasonally dependent horses in training – borderline hopeless in winter but electric in spring. A dual winner of the Pertemps Network Final, he caused a 33/1 shock when winning this last year and will carry plenty of each-way support.

Angels Dawn – Fulke Walywn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase

Hailing from the small Sam Curling operation, Angels Dawn held off the big guns to record a famous victory in this Amateur Riders contest. An 11-pound higher mark makes life tough, but he ran an eye-catching prep when third in the Thyestes Handicap Chase

Faivoir – BetMGM County Handicap Hurdle

Always a man to fear in the Festival handicaps, Dan Skelton struck again with the enigmatic Favoir. Only two pounds higher and an excellent second in the Imperial Cup at the weekend, he won’t be 33/1 this time.

Galopin Des Champs – Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase

With three wins in the past five editions, Willie Mullins appears to have found the key to the main event. Imperious when sweeping by the field 12 months ago, Galopin Des Champs is the hot favourite for the big one.

Premier Magic – St James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

Trained and ridden by Bradley Gibbs, few saw the triumph of 66/1 chance Premier Magic coming in 2023. Following up that victory with another win at the track in May and unbeaten in two starts this season, he’s amongst the more fancied runners this time.