Wagering requirements and T&C’s Apply | Commercial content | New Customers Only | 18+
As soon as one Cheltenham Festival is over, we immediately look forward to the next one. It’s early days as far as the 2022 ante-post markets are concerned. That said, some strong favourites are already showing themselves.
Everyone wants hot tips for Cheltenham. The anticipation will continue to grow between now and March 15th, 2022. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest Cheltenham contenders and offer a summary of their chances.
Appreciate It – Arkle Trophy
Appreciate It finished with a perfect 4 from 4 record in his first hurdling season. His campaign culminated in a most breath-taking 24-length win in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2021, Willie Mullins’ gelding looking every inch the bona fide superstar.
Another hurdling season may yet be on the cards. However, this horse is a fine jumper and a quick learner which makes him very much a potential novice chasing star for the best trainer in the game.
He may begin around November time in Ireland before taking square aim at Arkles on both sides of the Irish Sea. A win at the Dublin Racing Festival would make him a very hot favourite for this two-mile chase, but even in the earliest ante-post shows he is as short as 11/4 in places.
Honeysuckle – Champion Hurdle
Henry De Bromhead’s amazing mare took her hurdle record to 11 from 11 when she was a good winner of this race in 2021. She has since extended that run even further and is simply a class above in the two-mile hurdling division.
As well as possessing major class, she loves Cheltenham too which is crucial. Honeysuckle landed the Mares’ Hurdle in 2020 as well as a Champion Hurdle thereafter and on the numbers, she just keeps getting better.
Rachael Blackmore’s regular mount will only be an eight-year-old when the 2022 Champion Hurdle comes around. Unless she hits a bump in the road on her way there, she looks booked for a second championship win.
Kilcruit- Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
Going up to the 2m5f distance of the Ballymore could be perfect for Willie Mullins’ Kilcruit. Before last year’s festival, the gelding was two from two in Irish bumpers and was favourite for the Champion Bumper at Grade 1 level.
There, he met Sir Gerhard who had recently been moved to the Mullins yard himself. He got a little bit tapped for toe that day, finishing second, but got his revenge next time. While the trip at Punchestown was still an extended two miles, he stayed on much better than the others and is ready for a significant step up in trip.
He is a hot favourite for this race and is even at the head of the market for the three-mile novice hurdle as well. In splitting he and Sir Gerhard up, it will leave his stablemate a potentially hot favourite too, this time for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Shishkin – Champion Chase
Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin pretty much flies the flag for British National Hunt chasers at the moment. His wonderful win in the 2021 Arkle marked him out as not only the best two-mile novice chaser in the country, but also one of the best full stop.
He will be aimed squarely at the Champion Chase and will be difficult to beat if he’s on his A-game. The only worry would be his trainer’s propensity to keep some of his big stars off the track in preparation for major Cheltenham races as he will need to be battle-hardened to beat the likes of Energumene, Chacun Pour Soi and Put The Kettle On.
Bob Olinger – Marsh Novices’ Chase
Nobody was too surprised with Bob Olinger’s win in the Ballymore last season – he went off the 6/4 favourite. What surprised and impressed however was the manner of his victory and now he goes chasing he can unlock even more potential.
Henry De Bromhead’s runner stayed the 2m5f well, but stepping back to two-and-a-half miles, especially given the need to jump larger obstacles, looks right up his street.
There’s little doubt that Bob Olinger is a future Ryanair Chase or Gold Cup contender, the Marsh Novices’ perhaps being only another stepping-stone for this lightly-raced sort.
Allaho – Ryanair Chase
Willie Mullins’ Cheveley Park gelding is really getting the hang of things at Cheltenham now. In 2019 he finished a nine-length third to Minello Indo in the Albert Bartlett, appearing to be a stayer. In 2020 he was third to Champ in the RSA Chase over the same distance, but the key to his improvement has been a step back in trip.
In 2021, he was in a very competitive and tight renewal of the Ryanair Chase. At least, it was tight on paper. In moments leading up to the 2½-mile event some serious money came for this horse, sending him off the clear 3/1 favourite.
As it turned out he routed his opposition by 12 lengths, beating Fakir D’Oudairies by some 12 lengths. Is if to underline how good that performance was, the runner-up then won by 11 lengths himself at Grade 1 level at Aintree. He’ll be very tough to beat in 2022 if anywhere near the same form.
Thyme Hill – Stayers’ Hurdle
Philip Hobbs’ staying hurdler has always looked like a potential champion. Previously one of the best novices around, he matured brilliantly last season but unfortunately had to miss this race.
He did win at Aintree in April and arguably he looks the natural successor to the likes of Flooring Porter and Paisley Park. Given a smooth preparation in the winter, the son of Kayf Tara should go off favourite for the 2022 Stayers’ Hurdle.
Monkfish – Gold Cup
Although he hasn’t fought his way to favouritism in the Cheltenham Gold Cup yet, it’s written in the stars for Monkfish.
A winner at the last two festivals, he is slowly progressing into a serious chaser and clearly loves it around Cheltenham. Racing over 3¼ miles when he’s turned 8 will surely bring out the very best in him and he remains a hugely exciting Gold Cup prospect.
A strong prep run at the Dublin Racing Festival in February would put him spot-on for this event.