The Cheltenham Festival is one of the major events in UK horseracing and it attracts spectators and bettors from all over that country and the rest of the world. The 2022 festival will be taking place between the 15th and 18th of March and many of the top trainers will have horses competing in it.
That includes multiple Cheltenham winner Willie Mullins; but he will not be the only big name in town and the Cheltenham Festival usually springs some surprises. So, what are the horses to consider putting cash on at Cheltenham this year?
The Gold Cup
There are four really big races at the Cheltenham Festival and the Gold Cup is the most prestigious. The favourite to win ahead of the race is ‘A Plus Tard’ at 3/1 from the Cheveley Park Stud stable.
This horse has already had big wins in the Betfair Chase and Savills Chase and has hit peak racing age – the range where no less than six recent Gold Cup winners have come from. ‘A Plus Tard’ has the pace, but there are some question marks about his hurdling.
‘Galvin’ is a good alternative to keep tabs on and is currently rated 4/1. He had the measure of ‘A Plus Tard’ the last time they raced against each other, over the festive period, which is worth bearing in mind.
A real strong point in his favour is his impressive stamina. That will be needed climbing the hill and is one reason why many ante-post bettors are picking him.
Other contenders to watch in the run-up are ‘Protektorat’ at 9/1 and ‘Minella Indo’ at 4/1.
This year’s Champions Hurdle field looks a little light on serious contenders compared with previous ones. There are still top horses competing though and the Champion Hurdle Tips have summarised the top runners to look out for.
The one that is grabbing the biggest slice of the betting ante-post action is ‘Honeysuckle’. She was the winner last year by a remarkable six-and-a-half lengths and has lost of her little power, pace or hurdling ability since then.
At 11/10, she has short odds to retain the crown, and also has a 7lb mares’ allowance giving her a further advantage over the male horses running. It is hard to see past her again, but she is not the only horse in contention.
Punters seeking out a horse with odds that offer greater value should look closely at ‘Appreciate It’. This is only his second racing season, but last year he came out on top in three hurdle races at Grade 1 level – perfect for the Champions Hurdle.
One of those was the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, where he finished a mighty 24-lengths ahead of the rest of the field. He is only running in this one race, but he could be the outside bet that pays off handsomely.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
The biggest story when it comes to the Queen Mother Champion Chase is definitely the rivalry between ‘Energumene’ and ‘Shishkin’. They battled it out early this year at Ascot, in the Clarence House Chase, and it was the Nicky Henderson horse ‘Shishkin’ who came out on top.
‘Shiskin’ is the hot favourite for this race in 2022, but Willie Mullins will have ‘Energumene’ raring to make amends this time. He let ‘Shishkin’ get in front of him at the close at Ascot and will need to avoid that due to the pace of his rival.
They are the ante-post favourites to lead the field at Cheltenham as well, with pre-race odds of 8/11 for ‘Shiskin’ and 3/1 for ‘Energumene’. Elsewhere, ‘Chacun Pour Soi’ is another real contender at 5/1, so Mullins has a strong chance of securing further Cheltenham glory in this race.
The Stayers’ Hurdle is one of the big day three highlights at Cheltenham and is a race for horses with stamina and strong hurdling ability more than pace. The current favourite for it is ‘Flooring Porter’, at 7/2, with ‘Thyme Hill’ behind on 9/2.
‘Flooring Porter’ was the winner of this race last year but lost out to ‘Klassical Dream’ in the Christmas Hurdle at the end of 2021. That was the Paul Townend-trained horse’s first race in two years and he led from the start. That will make him a popular betting option at 5/1.
‘Thyme Hill’ will be flying the flag for the UK, having missed out on competing in this race in 2021, but ‘Paisley Park’ at 7/1 might be the smart pick. Emma Lavelle’s horse won by three-and-a-quarter lengths in the Cheltenham Trials, after chasing down the leader and hot favourite ‘Champ’ in the final stretch.
Placing an advance Cheltenham bet
Although the majority of people wait until the day of the races to place their bets, there are real arguments for getting in early. These advance wagers – known as ante-post betting – usually provide more attractive odds than are available on the actual race day.
That can make them a more lucrative proposition for people who know their stuff and have studied the field, so they are able to make smart picks. There are risks: if something prevents the horse from running on the day, the punter does not get their stake back, but the risk is part of the fun of horseracing betting.
These are the big Cheltenham races in the UK and the horses to look at. Get your bets in early to win big.