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Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle Tips (5:30pm)

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The curtain comes down on this years’ festival with a competitive two-and-a-half-mile handicap. There are ten flights of hurdles still to be jumped though and all the big yards are set to be represented here. This race presents a major headache for punters as no favourite has won this in the last ten renewals and and seven of the last ten winners have returned at a starting price of 11/1 or bigger.

The race usually attracts a field of at least twenty runners but in an interesting statistic, five of the last ten winners have won on their most recent start. Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the race having landed it four times since the race was established in 2009. Paul Nicholls has also won the race twice and has fared best of the home based yards. No horse aged older than seven has won this race since its inception and nine of the last ten winners had at least been placed on their previous start. Irish runners have also taken six of the last nine renewals.

Spanish Harlem

Has yet to win for Willie Mullins and his jumping was certainly an issue on his most recent start when second to Riaan at Thurles. He will need to certainly improve on what we saw there. A lack of a previous run at Cheltenham is also a concern and he looks far too short in the market at this stage.

Langer Dan

His form has tailed right off this year and no positives can be gained from watching his last two runs here at Cheltenham and at Aintree. He was brought down in this very race last season and has clearly struggled to find his way back. Despite this, he continues to rise in the handicap and until his current mark relents, he will continue to struggle.


Has played the bridesmaid on his last three runs for Gordon Elliott. This would be his first ever run in a handicap and it will be fast and ferocious. He has never encountered a race with what is likely to be over twenty runners and that could well prove his undoing. You have needed at least a mark of 137 to be successful in this in recent years and he just falls short. Others including his stablemates look to have stronger claims.

Favori De Champdou

A progressive hurdler who is unbeaten in his last three starts for Gordon Elliott. He is certainly somewhat of a Thurles specialist having won around there three times now and that bodes well coming here. Both Blow By Blow and Champagne Classic were at least placed in their Thurles run before going on to win this very race and both were trained by Gordon Elliott. If the ground were to turn soft his chances would increase as he appears better suited by wet ground.

Firm Footings

Finally shattered his maiden over hurdles by winning at Navan just last month. He turned over a Willie Mullins hotpot in Horantzau D’airy and stuck to the task bravely. This is a different kettle of fish altogether and he is well used to larger fields. He is worth his place in the line-up but could well struggle.

Hacker Des Places

Has winning course and distance form this season and could well be one of Paul Nicholls’ best chance of a winner during the week. Lightly raced, he made the most of a three month break to win a good handicap here back in January. He got the better of Might I by a neck and no surprise to see him improve again. He is rated in the region of what it takes to win this so he has to be considered.


Has had a tough time of it this year but got back to winning ways at Thurles last time when beating Spanish Harlem. That form looks ordinary and is questionable. There are other horses that come here much fresher and should prove too strong for the Gordon Elliott raider.


A step back in trip could prove key to the chances of Grozni, who ran such a fine race at Leopardstown over three miles last time. That proven stamina should work in his favour here and Charles Byrnes looks to have him primed for this. He is a constistant as a ticking clock and has picked up wins at Leicester, Punchestown and Navan already this season. He has to be considered in a wide open renewal of this race.


Favori De Champdou is unbeaten in three starts and he can asset his class here. Gordon Elliott has a favourable record in the race and prior to coming here he won at Thurles. The yard have used that track as a practice circuit for Cheltenham for years and as he is on the upgrade he could well slice through some disappointing sorts on his way to a potential victory. Grozni may well have been the answer to this tricky puzzle, but he is unlikely to make the final line-up. Charles Byrnes ran him at Leopardstown last time to freshen him up as he had been off the track since early December. He ran better than anyone thought he could. He has already won three times this year including in a big field at Navan.

Punters Lounge Tip: Favori De Champdou E/W @ 8/1 NRNB at bet365 – Click Here To Bet
by Karl Hedley @Tumbleweed King
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The race usually attracts a field of at least twenty runners but in an interesting statistic, five of the last ten winners have won on their most recent start. Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the race having landed it four times since the race was established in 2009. Paul Nicholls has also won the race twice and has fared best of the home based yards. No horse aged older than seven has won this race since its inception and nine of the last ten winners had at least been placed on their previous start. Irish runners have also taken six of the last nine renewals.

Felix Desjy

One of 6 in race trained by Gordon Elliott. Back to form when runner up at Navan last time under today’s jockey Corey McGivern but plenty of weight here.

Might I

Softer the ground the better for Harry Fry’s seven year old. Up 3lb for latest fine second at Ascot and with Lorcan Murtagh booked should be thereabouts.

Cool Survivor

Lightly raced novice hurdler trained by Gordon Elliott. And ridden by Sam Ewing. A winner of two novice hurdles last Autumn the latter a listed one. 4th in a grade 1 last time and in first handicap looks a player.

Molly Ollys Wishes

First handicap for this Dan Skelton trained mare who will be ridden by Fergus Gillard. Consistent and despite plenty of weight has small each way chances.


Another Gordon Elliott runner who is also making his handicap debut here. A winner at Wexford last October and has finished runner up on three occasions since, with his latest effort in listed company. Hard to assess under Ben Harvey but could be well handicapped.

Mark Of Gold

Very easy winner at Kempton last month and has been shunted up 10lb for that win. Gary Moore’s six year old may not have as much improvement as others but arrives in good form.

No Ordinary Joe

Trained by Nicky Henderson and won on his re-appearance at Kempton over Christmas. Went off only 6/1 in Betfair Hurdle off of a 5lb higher mark 6 weeks later but soundly beaten ( may have found the ground too fast that day). Holds each way claims.


Like No Ordinary Joe is owned by legendary punter/owner JP McManus. Bolted up at Wetherby last time following up a previous win there two months earlier. Has been put up 10lb for that win but that may not be enough and can run well for a stable that’s having a good season in Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero.

Spirit Of Legend

Cut no ice in first time handicap at Naas last time and will need to do better here under Mike’s O’Connor and the in form Henry De Bromhead.


One of three Willie Mullins trained runners. First handicap and ridden by Jack Foley. Won a listed race at Punchestown in December and could be cable of running alright each way.

West To The Bridge

Hacked up at Sandown last week coming home 19L to the good. Carries a 5lb penalty today for trainer Dan Skelton. Ten years old now though and wouldn’t be certain to back that up.

Spanish Harlem

Looks the most fancied of the 3 Willie Mullins runners here. Makes his handicap debut having been placed in three novice hurdles, latterly when going down 1/2L to Riann at Thurles. Hard to assess but could be well in.

Au Fleuron

Not disgraced in decent decent handicap hurdle at Punchestown last time at 33/1. Need a similar effort just to hit the frame. Trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden here by Kieran Buckley.

Irish Hill

Missed out by one for the Coral Cup but comfortably gets in here. Trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Angus Cheleda. On a four timer having got up 18lb in the weights. Still improving and one for the short list.

Firm Footings

Yet another novice in first handicap trained by Gordon Elliott. Navan winner last time and will be ridden by Shane Fitzgerald. Watch market with him.

Impulsive One

Second of Nicky Henderson’s runners and will be ridden by Ben Bromley in the double green silks of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. Dual winner this season but needs better ground than this so best watched.

In From The Cold

Only had a couple of runs for trainer Gordon Elliott, pulling up in Fairyhouse handicap hurdle and 3rd in Dundalk handicap on the all weather. A big price and doesn’t look good enough.


Willie Mullin’s third runner in race. Lightly raced over hurdles breaking his duck in Punchestown maiden hurdle last time. Another one hard to assess.

Buddy One

Runner up in grade 3 novice hurdle at Thurles last month but has been shunted up 22lb for that fine effort. Hard to fancy with that rise. Trained by Irish handler Paul Gilligan and ridden by his son Jack.

Hollow Sound

0 from 9 over hurdles though did run his best run in maiden hurdle last time when runner up. Unlikely to be good enough here for Luke Comer.

Hey Johnny*

Thurles handicap winner in January and not disgraced in similar contests twice since. Appears to have little in hand of handicapper. Trained by Thomas Mullins.

Fifty Ball

Capable but has shown nothing in two starts this season and Gary Moore’s 8 year old will be a shock winner.


One of two Tony Martin horses propping up the handicap. Just the two runs for Martin but looks to be in handicappers grip.


Second of Tony Martin’s runners. Shown nothing in three starts for Martin and impossible to fancy.

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle Tips

There are several unexposed Irish horses making their handicap debuts that could be ahead of their mark including the Mullins runner Spanish Harlem and the Elliott brace of Cool Survivor and Imagine. A market watch is needed on all three of those. The two I like against them though is the Paul Nicholls trained Irish Hill who continues to impress and is chasing a four timer and Iroko who bolted up at Wetherby last time.

Irish Hill Betfred bookmakers">16/1 each way Betfred 1/5th 123456

If you want to find out the best bookmaker promotions, look at our Cheltenham Festival betting offers page.

*Since this article has been written these horses have been declared as non-runners


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Key Stats

Weight greater than 11st 6lb, 5 from 37, profit 31 points. Remainder 4 from 170, loss 123 points

Forecast favourite, 0 from 9

Beaten favourite, 0 from 29

This leaves

COOL SURVIVOR 5/1 - 5 places

MOLLY OLLYS WISHES 33/1 - 5 places

FELIX DESJY 50/1 - 5 places

MIGHT I 8/1 - 5 places


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