Day One 15 March – Champion Day
Day one of the Cheltenham Festival is traditionally known as Champion Day. That is because the featured race is the Champion Hurdle and this is one of the most prestigious and competitive hurdle events in the racing calendar. The race has been taking place since 1927 and has been won by famous four year old plus horses including Persian War, See You Then and Hurricane Fly. The race is run over 2 miles and 87 yards that involves 8 flights. Let’s take a look at some of the fancied horses that are being backed as having a chance to win.
One of the favourites for the race, Honeysuckle romped home to win the Champion Hurdle in 2021 ridden by Racheal Blackmore and trained by Henry De Bromhead. The most recent outing claimed a third consecutive win of the Irish Champion Hurdle and she is the first horse to win all 14 consecutive races over hurdles since her debut to remain unbeaten.
This horse is trained by Willie Mullins and it won the Supreme Novices Hurdles in 2021. This season Appreciate It has not raced and will go straight into the Champion Hurdle. Mullins and his stable have been the most successful at the Cheltenham Festival with no fewer than 78 winners. To date Appreciate It has not featured in the same race as Honeysuckle and it will be interesting to see them battle it out.
Another former winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2020 but could not keep pace with Honeysuckle in 2021 at Punchestown and Prestbury Park. Recently form has seen a grade one win at the Kempton Christmas Hurdle while going neck and neck at Newcastle for the Fighting Fifth title.
Day Two 16 March – Ladies Day
Day two sees the Ladies putting on the best as the main featured race of the day is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This two mile steeple chase sees leading British and Irish horses race for glory. The race is open to horses aged five years or older. This race is the leading minimum distance race in the National Hunt calendar and the horses will have 13 fences to navigate. Last year’s winner was Put The Kettle On but let us see who might be in with a shout this year. 22 horses are set to go head to head this year.
Last year saw Shishkin romp home in the Arkle Challenge Trophy and in 2020 a win in the Supreme Novices Hurdle means a chance for a third big win over successive years. Over fences Shishkin has not faltered and the most recent win was over the Christmas period winning the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
At the Clarence House Chase at Ascot, Energumene was leading by 2 lengths at the final hurdle only to lose stamina in the final run in and be taken by Shishkin. This 8 year old brown gelding won the previous race over 2 miles at Cork and is from the Willie Mullins stable.
Chacun Pour Soi
Another Willie Mullins trained horse who, by the way, has not had a winner to date at the Queen Mother Champion Chase. After a disappointing run out in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, Chacun Poir Soi returned to form recently at Leopardstown grade one Dublin Chase. Last year this horse was favourite to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase but could only manage to finish third.
Day Three 17 March – St Patrick’s Day Celebration
Day three of the Cheltenham Festival sees an Irish celebration of St Patrick’s Day with the main featured race being the Ryanair Steeple Chase. This grade one race features horses of five years and upwards and is raced over two miles and a half miles. An event that is still reasonably new to the Cheltenham Festival, all thirteen winners had prior wins over the same distance, ten of which at grade one. Ten of the last twelve winners have been within the front three of the betting market and most winners have had prior running experience at Cheltenham. Prize money for the winner is £350,000.
A Willie Mullins trained horse, Allaho has been a little disappointing of late despite winning a grade 2 race at Thurles in January. This horse is an 8 year old from France and has won six races during its career. One of these wins came last year in the Ryanair Steeple Chase with an impressive twelve length gap.
A popular choice for this years Ryanair Steeple Chase and last time round came second to Allaho. This six year old horse is trained by Joseph O’Brien with a win at Clonmel in November last year over two and a half miles. More recently Fakir D’Oudairies came second in January running at Thurles.
This is an interesting entry in the race. A favourite last season at the Cheltenham Festival Marsh Novices Chase, Envoi Allen suffered an unexpected defeat. However, this horse is good over fences and this was proven when winning the Ballymore Novices Hurdle. The most recent run in December resulted in a seven length win at Leopardstown.
Day Four 18 March – Cheltenham Gold Cup Day
A major fixture in the horse racing calendar and one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world. It is a showcase of jump racing and has produced winners such as Kauto Star and Best Mate in the past. The winner will walk away with a whopping prize of £625,000 and last year’s winner was Minella Indo who will run again this year along with 29 other horses. There are 22 fences to jump and the race is run over three miles and two furlongs.
Once again, a hotly tipped horse to win the Gold Cup after last season’s triumph beating A Plus Tard by just over a length. Trained by Henry De Bromhead, this eight year old has previously won the grade one Albert Bartlett Novices and seems to enjoy racing at Prestbury Park.
A Plus Tard
An eight year old brown gelding from France and another horse trained by Henry De Bromhead. Last year A Plus Tard raced to second place in the Gold Cup and perhaps this horse can go one better in 2022. This horse is a consistent performer and is rarely out of the placings.
Another horse that is rarely out of the placings and the last time out saw a win over three miles at Leopardstown in December. Galvin is an eight year old horse trained by Gordon Elliott and has twelve race wins during a successful career to date.
With the Cheltenham Festival fast approaching, why not visit mr.play Sports to check out the latest odds on all the horses participating in the 28 races during the event. We offer numerous different markets so that you can cover numerous different outcomes and hopefully back multiple winners.