Wagering requirements and T&C’s Apply | Commercial content | New Customers Only | 18+
Naturally this is the biggest week of racing of the year for all concerned, but ostensibly the owners pay the bills and as big a deal of them should be made. We take a look at the contenders to be crowned leading owner at the Cheltenham Festival 2022.
JP McManus is seemingly always among the top 5 owners. In fact, one of the greatest advocates of horse racing of all is the perennial champion owner in Britain and will have every right to be a major contender to be leading owner.
While Epatante was the headline in his 7 winners at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, he had to make do with a single one in 2021. That won’t happen again, you can be sure of that, with Champ perhaps his no.1 hope this time around.
McManus will be responsible for horses trained on both sides of the Irish see, will have numerous festival favourites and will be in a strong position in the handicaps for sure.
Cheveley Park Stud
For the longest time the Thompson family via their Cheveley Park Stud operation have been synonymous with flat racing.
That all changed at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival when they started rattling in the winners over jumps and they simply haven’t looked back.
Cheveley Park Stud has gone from strength to strength in National Hunt racing, the likes of Allaho and Sir Gerhard sure to be leading fancies in 2022.
In effect, Cheveley Park’s National Hunt operation is in its infancy so we can bet there will be plenty of young novices we don’t even know well yet eventually throwing their hats into the ring for March. The winter will be very interesting for this operation, certainly.
Mrs S Ricci
You’ll see his big-hitting horses run under his wife’s name, Mrs S Ricci, but there’s no doubt who is in charge of this operation.
His familiar colours have been carried by the likes of Faugheen in the past, and now Ricci has Monkfish to look forward to as a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
There’s plenty of substance too and so his overall numbers are bound to be pretty big. Ricci has his horses primarily with Willie Mullins, so they won’t be lacking for ability or race fitness, meaning a tally of 3+ winners during the week is not out of reach which would give him every chance of landing the title.
Rich and Susannah Ricci remain among the Festival favourites, as do so many of their string of horses.
Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede
The famous double-green colours of Simon Munir & Isaac Souede have been carried to glory at Cheltenham but Footpad in the past, while Haydock specialist Bristol De Mai has also carried them with distinction.
Given the pair’s continued investment in the sport, there are sure to be more contenders with trainers such as Nicky Henderson and Nigel Twiston-Davies over the coming months.
The Munir/Souede partnership is particularly adept at finding new, former French runners. A few of those reaching graded level will surely give the pair a major shout at the festival.
Concertista may well be back for more in 2022, but winning the leading owner title is a numbers game so the two-tone green will need to be seen in plenty of the handicaps too.
There’s been talk of Ryanair magnate Michael O’Leary and his brother shrinking down the Gigginstown Stud operation, owners of Tiger Roll among others, but they remain dangerous in this particular battle.
For now, the team still has plenty of firepower and having vowed to support beleaguered trainer Gordon Elliott, they will most likely have the majority of their remaining team with him as they each fight a rather dwindling public opinion on them.
It may yet prove to be that there’s a changing of the guard at Cheltenham. Dan Skelton may replace Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson as leading British trainer, Henry De Bromhead could wrestle the trainer’s title from Willie Mullins. But it would be unwise to completely write off Gigginstown Stud in the owner’s battle just yet.