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2025 Cheltenham Festival Tips – Five Early Fancies for Next Year’s Meeting

Jeroboam Machin

Although the 2024 Cheltenham Festival has only just concluded, many racing fans’ minds turn immediately to getting the value ahead of the following year. Joe Napier has picked out five horses who did not run at this year’s meeting, but who could be value for victory next season.

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Jeroboam Machin – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

The first two in the preliminary markets for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, as they almost always are, are the pair who filled the first two places in the 2024 Champion Bumper, Jasmin De Vaux and Romeo Coolio. However, this forgets the impressive performance of JEROBOAM MACHIN at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Emmet Mullins’ charge sauntered clear to success in Leopardstown’s Grade 2 that day, winning by 4 ¼ lengths, but in the fashion of a horse who had more to come. Injury ruled him out of following up at the Festival, but he was favourite for the race at the time of his defection.

Jasmin De Vaux and Romeo Coolio both put in good performances at Cheltenham, but they did not blow the field away, and on his form from Leopardstown, even a maintenance of his performance on Racing Post Ratings (RPRs) would have seen Jeroboam Machin finish third. Only slight improvement would have been required, as he would have had no issue with the prevailing ground conditions.

As long as his injuries are not too serious, he is likely to take high rank among the novice hurdlers either side of the Irish Sea. He did win his point-to-point over 3m on heavy, so it is possible he will step up in trip, but he evidently has plenty of pace to cope with the rigours of 2m too.


Dysart Enos – Mares’ Hurdle

At Aintree last season, DYSART ENOS won the Grade 2 Mares’ Bumper by nine yawning lengths, comfortably putting her rivals to the sword. Ever since that performance she was well-fancied for a potential tilt at the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but was pulled out on the morning of the race due to injury.

That Aintree race is still worth looking back to, as it demonstrates the scale of ability she might possess. In second that day was Golden Ace, Jeremy Scott’s mare who upset the Irish raiders to claim victory in the aforementioned Mares’ Novices’ at the Festival. Dysart Enos had been campaigned with Cheltenham in mind and would almost certainly have been 100% fit but for being lame on the day.

It takes very little exercise of the imagination to envision her having won last week given that form, her unbeaten record, and the fact she had already recorded a smooth success over course and distance. The 2025 Mares’ Hurdle now looks the ideal target for her, and at the age of six she may well still have plenty of improving to do.

This season’s Mares’ Hurdle heroine Lossiemouth is the clear favourite in the early ante-post market, but connections are already lining her up for a crack at the Champion Hurdle in a year’s time. As such, the time may well be now to jump on Dysart Enos, who at 16/1 represents significant value for a mare whose form is so strong and who will almost certainly be targeted at this contest, in spite of having missed this year’s meeting.

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Impaire Et Passe – Turners Novices’ Chase

It turns out State Man needed no backup in the fight to beat Constitution Hill, as the latter fell foul of the cloud surrounding Nicky Henderson’s stable in the build up to the 2024 Cheltenham Festival. However, none of us were to know this at the start of the jumps season, least of all Willie Mullins, who pitched IMPAIRE ET PASSE alongside State Man for the purposes of wrestling back the Champion Hurdle against racing’s biggest superstar.

Hindsight suggests any other feasible route would have been preferable for Impaire Et Passe, who proved inferior to State Man twice and recalcitrant when trying to make his own running at the Dublin Racing Festival. However, though it was seen as a disappointment at the time, he was beaten just a length by Teahupoo in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle in December, and that horse was much further clear of his rivals in the Stayers’ Hurdle on Cheltenham Thursday.

Either a rematch with Gordon Elliott’s charge in the Stayers’ or a tilt at novice chasing would have been preferable, and the latter seems the most likely option for him next term. His hurdling has not always been the most fluent and the Stayers’ Hurdle is the least sought after of all championship prizes in Mullins’ book, especially if his 2024 Festival squad is anything to go by.

While this season has been a write off for Impaire Et Passe in many respects, he has only been beaten by three horses, all of whom won at Cheltenham at some point this season (State Man, Teahupoo and Bob Olinger). It would be foolish to suggest he has shown any less ability than his novice season, and fences, combined with a step up in trip, could still be the making of him.

Il Est Francais – Gold Cup

While the Cheltenham Festival produced its usual array of top performances, the most breathtaking effort of the year may still belong to IL EST FRANCAIS after his demolition job in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day. It was as accurate a round of jumping as you could ever see from a novice.

A run at this year’s Festival may well have been tempting for Noel George and Amanda Zetterholm, but full focus has instead been given to the French Gold Cup, the Grand Steeplechase de Paris, in May. Securing the goods on home turf comes first.

However, it is unlikely temptation will be resisted for too long. On the evidence of his Kauto Star effort, this is a chaser of rare ability and adaptability. He had never previously encountered good ground, nor raced beyond 2m6f, but acquitted himself phenomenally to pulverise a strong field. Giovinco, who was third in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, not beaten far by 2025 Gold Cup second favourite Fact To File, was taken so far out of his comfort zone by Il Est Francais’ display that he was forced to pull up.

Winning at Auteuil in May will go a long way to satisfying connections plans to seal the top French prizes first, but the King George almost certainly lies in wait in December. That race looks tailor-made for him, and all the talk should he win that race will turn to the Gold Cup. He surely will not come to Cheltenham to contest any other race and he may be as naturally talented as any horse in the line-up. That includes Galopin Des Champs. 

Impervious – Mares’ Chase

The only horse on this list to have previously won their specified race, IMPERVIOUS has missed the entire season through injury. However, she is as yet unbeaten over fences, winning the 2023 edition in gutsy fashion from Allegorie De Vassy before winning by further at Punchestown a month later.

Willie Mullins’ vanquished mare from 2023 was beaten further into fourth behind Limerick Lace this season, but that does not take away too much from Impervious’ success. Colm Murphy’s eight-year-old put 17 lengths between them at Punchestown and made a name for herself as an especially fluent jumper of a fence.

The 2m4½f trip continues to look ideal for her measured jumping and strong travelling, so it is unlikely they will look anywhere other than regaining this race next season. The Ryanair Chase could come into consideration depending on how it cuts up, but few top chasing mares have been diverted from this race since it was introduced in 2020.

Her current price probably factors in a few complications that could come with the injury she incurred this season, but her form entitles her to be favourite. There do not look set to be any major mares’ novice chasers unless one of Brighterdaysahead or Jade De Grugy have their attentions turned here, and the race may well be winnable for JP McManus’ charge.

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