Five Horses To Take Out Of The 2023 Cheltenham Festival

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing


The first eye-catcher of the 2023 Cheltenham festival was the Willie Mullins trained Diverge who was only having his third run over hurdles in the Grade One Supreme Novices' Hurdle and he ran a cracker off the pace to grab third.

Bought off the flat in France in December 2022, he made his hurdles debut for the yard at Leopardstown on Boxing Day when a good sixth of 27 runners behind High Definition.

Seen once more before the festival he got off the mark in very taking style when a 23 lengths winner of a two mile Maiden Hurdle.

Lacking more experience than most but the penny definitely dropping at Punchestown, Patrick Mullins took the ride at the Cheltenham Festival and staying on from the back of the field having been nursed into the race, in his first Grade One he was only six lengths behind the winner Marine Nationale.

Only just starting his career over hurdles, he has plenty of scope to keep improving and is one to keep an eye on for the future only being a five year old.


On the second day of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival, The Grand Annual Handicap Chase saw a potentially unlucky loser in the way of Dinoblue for Willie Mullins.

A very smart mare last season over hurdles when bolting up on hurdles debut at Clonmel before going off favourite for the Mares Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but ultimately spoilt her chances on the day when pulling too hard.

After that she went to Fairyhouse and finished a good fourth behind Brandy Love and Love Envoi in the Grade One Mares Novice Hurdle and then rounded off her season with another fair fourth behind Party Central at the Punchestown Festival in the Listed Mares Hurdle.

Sent chasing this term she made a stellar debut over the bigger obstacles when winning a Mares Beginners Chase at Cork on soft ground.

Since then she has been seen twice more finishing second to Impervious in a Grade Two Mares Novice Chase at Cork which was strong form and then was second again when last seen at Naas behind the smart Magic Daze in the Listed Mares Opera Hat Chase.

Given a mark of 140 for the Grand Annual she was well backed before the off and coming up to two fences from the finish she looked the most likely winner.

However, having basically took both fences with her to the line and still managing to finish second she has ran a superb race and one to keep on side going forward.

Magical Zoe

On the Thursday of the four day spectacular meeting, Magical Zoe for trainer Henry De Bromhead ran an absolutely huge race for where she was turning for home to grab second and that run can be marked up.

Unbeaten on all of her first three runs before the festival, making her debut in a Mares bumper at Cork in March last year when bolting up, she then stepped over hurdles for the first time and made it 2/2 when winning nicely at Wexford.

In November at Down Royal on soft ground she bought up a hat-trick of wins in a hot Grade Three Mares' Hurdle and having been saved since then for the Grade Two Mares Novices' Hurdle she ran a stormer under Rachael Blackmore to grab second behind the Jamie Snowden trained You Wear It Well.

The winner was ridden from the front making very yard, but for Magical Zoe having been at the back of the 20 runner field the whole way, hitting multiple traffic problems and having to switch, she stayed on powerfully up the hill to only go down by 2 3/4 lengths.

She is a horse to keep on side going forward.

Mr Incredible

Also on the Thursday of the meeting, in the final race on the third day it saw the Kim Muir Challenge Trophy and with a view to a horse running well in this but it acting massively as a prep for the Grand National, Mr Incredible for Willie Mullins ran a stormer.

Showing now on two occasions this season that a step up to a trip on soft ground is what he needs, off a mark of 145 he could be well in for the National.

A staying on second of 13 at Warwick in January in the Grade Three Classic Chase on heavy ground, in the Kim Muir having been ridden out the back, he stayed on up the hill out of nowhere to grab third, only being beaten by less than six lengths.

One for the Grand National if getting soft ground in the description.

Sandor Clegane

The final horse to keep onside off the back of their performance from the 2023 Cheltenham festival is the Paul Nolan trained Sandor Clegane, who ran a superb race to grab third in the Grade One Albert Bartlett.

Having hinted all season he had big potential, at the Cheltenham Festival he produced a very eye-catching run up the hill to suggest he is a horse that has more to offer potentially over fences next term.

A decent bumper horse last season when second to Facile Vega in a Grade Two event at the DRF, this term being sent over hurdles and up in trip has been the making of him.

Second on hurdles debut in October behind Three Card Brag at Galway, he then went up in trip to 2m 5 1/2f at Punchestown and bolted up by 12 lengths.

Upped slightly in trip again at the DRF when a good third behind Good Land and Absolute Notions, at the festival racing over three mile for the first time he came from way back in the field to power up the hill and narrowly finish third behind Stay Away Fay and Affordale Fury.

Although that does not look the most credible form, Albert Bartlett on paper was a very strong race and with Sandor Clegane showing some of the best staying form in the race, we think is a big player over a trip next season, potentially over fences.