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EW (8 Places)
Ultima Handicap Chase
|Place BetPlace Bet|
|Monbeg Genius||12/112/1||Ante Post
EW (8 Places)
Ultima Handicap Chase
|Place BetPlace Bet|
|Cloudy Glen||16/116/1||EW (8 Places)
Ultima Handicap Chase
|Place BetPlace Bet|
Date of Tips: 12/03/2023
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (09:30 12/03/2023) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
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|Will Smith Tips||Steve Mullington
The ground will play a large factor again here, as quite a few of the protagonists in what is always a fascinating opening handicap of the meeting, would have been prepared with decent(ish) ground in mind.
It seems as the likes of Corach Rambler, Into Overdrive, Oscar Elite, Threeunderthurfive and Tea Clipper may all have had their chances scuppered by the weather.
Main fancy Nassalam definitely hasn’t had his chances scuppered however, and indeed every drop of rain that falls will be in the favour of Gary Moore’s improving young chaser. Nassalam did incredibly well to keep tabs on the leaders here at Cheltenham over 2m4½f on New Year’s Day, and the way he kept on past the likes of subsequent winners Il Ridoto and Jacamar was notable. He is going to relish this trip and especially the testing ground.
At 8/1 each-way with SkyBet for a whopping 8 places, that is just about the bet of the day for me. There’s so much value to be had with these extra places and it’s always worth shopping around to find them.
Another string to our betting bow is not always beneficial, but on this occasion it definitely will be, as the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Monbeg Genius looks to be a horse who is improving incredibly quickly this season.
Coming into this on the back of a confidence boosting three wins, Monbeg Genius has had the choice of the Eider Chase, this race, the Kim Muir or next weekend’s Midlands National, and it seems O’Neill feels the Ultima Handicap Chase at 2.50 on Tuesday is his best option.
At 12/1 each-way with SkyBet for those 8 places also, I’m finding it easy to agree with the trainer’s decision, and feel Monbeg Genius is a name we will hear plenty more about, as he attempts to continue his improvement.
Of others in the race, and given some firms are offering 7 or even 8 places, the likes of last year’s Coral Cup runner-up Fastorslow and the first-time cheekpieced Fantastikas would also be worthy of some recommendation.
The Venetia Williams-trained Cloudy Glen knows just one way of running and that’s out in front, bolding along, popping every fence and running all his pursuers into submission.
The Ladbrokes Trophy (former Hennessey) winner of 2021, nearly pulled off the amazing feat of leading all the way in the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park, before stablemate Quick Wave ran him down in the closing stages. It was a fantastic effort nevertheless given that it was his first run back after an absence of 385 days.
Trading at odds of around 22/1, I believe the ten-year-old will be a much stronger horse than he was at Haydock and that Charlie Deutsch will attempt to dominate and pinch the race from the front.
Of the others, Into Overdrive was a good winner of the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase on Boxing Day and the second horse – Sounds Russian, has done plenty to frank the form since. A good showing from Mark Walford’s runner may even lead you into a small flutter on Ruth Jefferson’s Gold Cup charge?
|Ultima Handicap Chase|
|Tues 14/03/2023||14:50||3m 1f||Chase|
The Ultima Handicap Chase is a Grade 3 race that covers a distance of 3 miles and 1 furlong. The race takes place on the Old Course and has 20 fences to be jumped. The Ultima Handicap Chase is open to horses aged five years or older and is one of the most competitive handicap chases at the Cheltenham Festival.
|The Big Breakaway||16/1|
|I Am Maximus||20/1|
|Top Ville Ben||33/1|
|Good Boy Bobby||40/1|
|Born By The Sea||80/1|
There are not many feelings more life-affirming or soul-uplifting than backing the winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. For in those heady four minutes – where anticipation turns to jittery excitement, which turns to hide behind the sofa nerves, which finally turns to sheer elation in the golden spring sunshine, as your Supreme pick romps home up that hill – all is well with your world.
However, if you want that feeling this year, then I’m afraid I can’t help you – you’ll have to source that yourselves!
As the Supreme looks a tricky puzzle to solve at this stage. So, in an attempt to get a winner on the board early, maybe the Arkle. But for me, the market looks right there, with Edwardstone very much the one to beat.
The Ultima Handicap Chase at 2.50 on the Tuesday it is then – easy! First handicap of the meeting, it’ll be easy to solve. Well. I think it might be closer to ‘easy’ than many races will be at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, and given the confirmation stage for entries is midday tomorrow (Wednesday), then now might be the time to have a dabble.
A fair few will come out at this stage, but one that I’ll be strongly hoping doesn’t come out is the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Fantastikas, who at 12/1 each-way with Betfred or Sky Bet ‘Non-Runner, No Bet’ and for 5 places, could be one that punters latch on to in the next week.
Rightly so too, as he would have an outstanding chance if he lines up here instead of his other entry in the National Hunt Chase. Nigel Twiston-Davies, all season long, has been leading the way in terms of plotting his nice novice chasers into valuable handicaps – he is the eminent authority on recognising the merits of an unexposed nature trumping a perceived lack of experience.
Fantastikas has had just the four chase starts, but on each occasion has taken a step forward – from his easy win on seasonal debut in a small handicap, to giving the fitter Threeunderthurfive a race at Doncaster, to a hugely notable run in the Dipper Novices’ Chase behind L’Homme Presse, and finally to showing his tenacity and ability to handle all types of ground when winning at Lingfield Park over 3m.
It is the Dipper run which is the most striking, as for ¾ of that race Fantastikas matched strides with the best British novice chaser on the clock this season, L’Homme Presse, and when that one stretched away between the final two fences, many horses, if trying to go with him, would have fallen out of the back of the screen.
Not a bit of it for Fantastikas, despite going faster early than all other chases on the card that day, he stuck on up the hill in game, strong staying fashion and marked himself down as a horse to be reckoned with over further. Cue his Lingfield Park win confirming this.
Fantastikas virtually ticks every box for this race – sound jumper, inherent pace to race prominently, strong stayer, unexposed and handles all ground. There simply isn’t anything not to like in my eyes, and I would have him clear favourite – so taking the 12/1 each-way with Betfred or Sky Bet for 5 places NRNB makes plenty of punting sense.
Does He Know, School Boy Hours and Ben Dundee would form an orderly queue at the head of the shortlist of the remainder, and might come into the reckoning once we know the final make-up of the race.
But, over the past week or so, every time I turn to the Ultima Handicap Chase entries, the one that leaps off the page and gallops through my imagination is Fantastikas – take that 12/1 each-way!
The following content was added by Will Smith on 10th March 2022
Having just a couple of days ago dissected the Ultima, and emerged with the 12/1 each-way about Fantastikas, I didn’t envisage going back to that particular well until the day before perhaps, when we would know the final field.
But on my almost hourly rounds of each race and market, there is another at a price and place terms now that might not be bettered nearer the time. The horse in question has festival form, is a lightly raced novice chaser (exactly the kind I like for handicaps at this stage of the season), represents a very much in-form trainer/jockey combination, and will enjoy the spring-like forecast that prevails for the most part over the next few days.
Tea Clipper won his chase debut at Chepstow back in October, when able to keep tabs on the speedy 2m chaser Fidelio Vallis, before seeing him off with a strong staying surge after the last over that trip of 2m3½f – in an overall time that was over 3 seconds quicker than the later handicap chase which featured plenty of solid mid-140’s horses.
Using that as a guide, Tea Clipper could be significantly better than his current mark of 145, and the reason he is available at 25/1 each-way with Betfred and Sky Bet, for 5 places and NRNB, is due to two below par runs after Chepstow.
However, Tea Clipper is quite a light-framed horse, who has an exceptional record fresh as a result. While he was also a never nearer 3rd in last year’s Coral Cup, which was a race dominated by the relatively speedy Heaven Help Us, and thus it wasn’t as much of a stamina test as Tea Clipper would have wanted. But it highlighted an ability to handle Cheltenham, handle the Festival itself, and further emphasised his big-field prowess.
The Ultima looks like it will be a race with a few classy sorts at the top of the weights – Frodon, Fury Road, Lostintranslation and Does He Know all possibles or probables. But I would feel most of those have plenty to prove, and their presence allows some improving and unexposed types to race off a nice low weight in comparison.
Fantastikas being chief among them, as previously highlighted, but also taking the 25/1 each-way with Betfred or Sky Bet about Tea Clipper would be advisable now – the market could latch on to him for the red-hot duo of Tom Lacey and Stan Sheppard.
The first handicap of the week and this looks an incredibly juicy one to start off with. The record of the Irish is poor in this race and for that reason alone, I couldn’t be siding with any of them in this. Instead, I have been convinced by the power of writing from my WhichBookie colleague, Will Smith, that Fantastikas has a brilliant chance in this race and given his upwardly mobile profile, he could be right there at the finish of this race. He is off a mark of 144, which seems more than fair and he has a nice mix of handicap and course experience. An each way price of 12/1 with Paddy Power – who are offering a whopping 6 places, looks like a good bet.
|Cheltenham Tips by Day|
|Day 1 TipsTips for Tuesday 14th March||Day 2 TipsTips for Wednesday 15th March|
|Day 3 TipsTips for Thursday 16th March||Day 4 TipsTips for Friday 17th March|
Having just extolled the virtues of the form, pace and substance of the front-running effort of Shan Blue’s win in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, there were also a few eyecatchers in behind.
Many will think I am talking about The Big Breakaway, and of course his day will come in time. As, given he raced predominantly in rear at a track that doesn’t suit that style, made numerous clumsy errors, and yet still had the engine to get near Shan Blue – all strongly suggests that when his stable start to hit form again, (and possibly once he has developed and strengthened physically over time,) then The Big Breakaway will be a shoo-in for a top-level graded chase at a more galloping track.
But, for the more intermediate future, there was a horse beaten by Shan Blue that has caught they eye on more than one occasion over fences this season. Step forward the Nick Williams-trained One For The Team, who is available at 16/1 with William Hill and Unibet for the first handicap of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, the Ultima Handicap Chase on the Tuesday.
I may be barking up completely the wrong tree, but trainers are often creatures of habit, and given Nick Williams has many an expertly-executed win at past Cheltenham Festivals to boast of, including Coo Star Sivola in the 2018 Ultima Handicap Chase, it might be wise to take some of that 16/1 each-way now.
Hark back to last February, and One For The Team was running off a mark of 130 in a Newbury Pertemps Final Qualifier in an attempt to qualify and raise his mark sufficiently to get in to the Final at last season’s Festival. Instead of accomplishing the job, he simply smashed it to smithereens! Running away with that race raised his handicap mark to 140.
Put away in the hope that he would return this season in as progressive form over fences, he quickly suggested he was resuming his climb when finishing third to McFabulous at Chepstow on his reappearance. Since that pipe-opener, he has run in two above average novice chases without troubling the judge, and then ran a huge race behind Shan Blue in the aforementioned Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Jumping left, kept to the wide outside, and allowed to settle into his own tempo as Shan Blue cranked it up, One For The Team ran on very nicely in the closing stages into fifth – which tangentially would have seen him actually cross the line ahead of Frodon.
The interesting factor about novice chases, is that granted a certain set of conditions, a horse’s handicap mark can’t be raised if they don’t win. However, this doesn’t apply to Grade 1 races, and so the fact that One For The Team finished just behind the 141-rated Golan Fortune (who himself is an interesting handicap chase prospect), means that his mark of 140 shouldn’t suffer too much as a result of this run.
It’ll be fascinating to see where One For The Team runs next, if at all, before the Cheltenham Festival. While of course there could be a chance that I’m wide of the mark here, but intuition tells me different. So, at 16/1 each-way with William Hill and Unibet, I’m more than willing to side with One For The Team for the Ultima Handicap Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
The following content was added on 24/02/2021 at 16:15
Being a cricket and horse racing tragic, there are two days in the calendar that just gets my blood pumping a little faster – the day that county fixtures are announced, and the day that Cheltenham Festival handicap entries are released.
Today saw the unveiling on various websites of the Festival handicap entries, and there’s nothing better than sifting through them trying to find little nuggets of information, diamonds in the rough and a price that some of the layers have let slip through the net. All the while, totting up which of your speculative (or otherwise) ante-post bets are still standing, and which you can scrap from the list.
The first handicap of the meeting is the Ultima Handicap Chase, run at 2.30 on the Tuesday, and as thing stand, WhichBookie followers will be on One For The Team at 16/1 as advised at Christmas time.
While also, pleasingly, Happygolucky has been entered for this race, and despite having entries in the National Hunt Chase and Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, I do feel that (as mused in early December), he would have a live chance if pitching up in this handicap. At 25/1 for Happygolucky ,in the ‘to win any race’ market when advised, I’d say we might get a lovely run for our money in the Ultima at that price.
So, potentially we have a 16/1 and a 25/1 dart for the Ultima, but there is another I’d like to add to those two – and it is a potential trends buster. Only two 10-year-olds have won this race since 1999, in the shape of Chief Dan George and Joe’s Edge, though in the preceding 11-year period, horses aged 10 or older won it six times. So, by no means is it an anchoring factor.
Kauto Riko is a horse that I’ve been waiting to run in a handicap chase over 3m+ for 23 months! Patience is a virtue they say, and I’m hoping that can be rewarded with a lovely each-way bet in the Ultima Handicap Chase at 33/1 with Paddy Power or Betfair Sportsbook, who are both offering 5 places each-way now and crucially, are also ‘non-runner, no bet’ on all Festival bets.
It is Kauto Riko’s only entry at the Festival, so it will be this race or your money back it seems. At the Festival of 2019, he was a fast finishing, eye-catching eighth behind Siruh Du Lac in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, run over 2m4½f on the New Course. That track very much favours prominent racers over fences, so his effort was significantly marked up in my mind.
That run came off the back of a two-month break, which was followed up by a huge run to finish second to Top Notch in the Peterborough Chase after a summer break. The trend, it seems, of Kauto Riko running well fresh continuing in abundance, as earlier evidenced by winning twice in his younger days off the back of a six month break or longer.
So, three below par runs in early 2020 could be forgiven on that basis, and he was back to his usual on form and eye-catching self over an (again) inadequate 2m4f in the BetVictor Gold Cup last November, when rattling home to be beaten 5½ lengths by Coole Cody. It is not over-egging it to suggest he could well have won with another 100 yards or so.
Given a nice break again, and over a trip that I think will suit Kauto Riko down to the ground, 33/1 each-way with Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook is just too good to ignore.
With the threat of the Coronavirus affecting the Cheltenham Festival rescinding (famous last words) and the 5-day entry confirmations all finalised, now is the time to get stuck in a little deeper into the action.
So many of the novice race markets are subject to huge fluctuations over the next few days, as running plans and weather will have large bearing on where certain horses go, and thus the relevant markets.
Given the almost guaranteed soft ground at best on day one, I do feel there is an opportunity to have an investment in the Ultima Handicap Chase – the first handicap run at the festival.
Paul Nolan’s Discorama has been second at the last two Cheltenham Festivals – courtesy of runner-up finishes in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in 2018, and the National Hunt Chase of last year.
Since running below par in a couple of races before Christmas, he has been put away, had a wind operation – and will crucially run fresh with Bryan Cooper confirmed aboard on Tuesday. On the three occasions he has reappeared off the back of a 6-month break or more, he has won twice and chased home leading chaser Champagne Classic on the other occasion.
Given that Champagne Classic is a 150+ rated chaser, and Discorama was beaten just over 3 lengths giving him 5lbs, it could be argued that Discorama is potentially nicely handicapped off his current mark of 148.
A couple of pounds here or there are not the be all and end all by any stretch. It is much more the combination of being fresh, wind op, previous festival form, soft ground and the perfect trip of 3m1f all aligning to give Discorama a favourite’s chance in my eyes.
At 8/1, with the 5 places and the NRNB concession he is worth locking in, but if you were brave enough to take the 9/1 with Coral then so be it. Either way, he could be one that punters latch on to in the coming days, in a race that will be high on numbers but low on horses with a winning chance.