Mar 9, 2022
Mar 9, 2022

Cheltenham Festival 2022 Preview

Cheltenham Festival 2022 Preview

Inform your predictions ahead of this month's Cheltenham Festival with insight and analysis.

The biggest event in jump racing takes place from March 15-18 as the world-famous Cheltenham Festival unfolds in the Gloucestershire countryside.

There are 28 races across four days at Prestbury Park, with the most sought-after prizes in National Hunt racing to be won, and the festival promises to provide thrilling sporting action all the way. 

Honeysuckle aims for perfection again

The opening day will be all about unbeaten mare Honeysuckle as she sets about defending her title in the Champion Hurdle race (15:30, March 15). Trained by Henry De Bromhead, Honeysuckle counts two Cheltenham Festival wins already amongst her impressive tally of 14 victories.

Rachael Blackmore will ride her – Blackmore being the ground-breaking Irish jockey that last year became the first woman to be leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival courtesy of her six wins. 

Honeysuckle looked good in last month's prep-run success at the Dublin Racing Festival, and she will be cheered on by an adoring crowd, having earned the title of 'Queen of the Jumps' in recent times. 

Bidding to halt her success will be last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner, Appreciate It (trainer: Willie Mullins), 2020 Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante (Nicky Henderson) and one of last year's leading juveniles, Teahupoo (Gordon Elliott), amongst others. 

Champion Chase set to live up to billing

The feature event on day two is the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (15:30, March 16), and, once again, an unbeaten record is on the line.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner, having won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Arkle Challenge Trophy races in the last two years, and arrives back in the Cotswolds still unbeaten as a chaser.

He won a heavyweight battle with Energumene in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January, though only by a length. That same rival is set to challenge again, along with his Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Chacun Pour Soi – who could do no better than third in this race a year ago. 

Add into the mix the likes of Nube Negra for Dan Skelton, second last year, and the reigning champion Put The Kettle On for De Bromhead; and the Champion Chase has the potential to be the race of the week at the Cheltenham Festival.

Cromwell looks to floor rivals again

Day three will see Gavin Cromwell's Flooring Porter defending his title in the Stayers' Hurdle (15:30, March 17). He was given a splendid front-running ride by Danny Mullins to win this race a year ago, and, from what we've seen since, those positive tactics appear crucial to him. 

The likes of Klassical Dream, who beat him at Christmas, Ascot's Long Walk winner, Champ, former Stayers' kingpin Paisley Park and last season's Aintree Grade 1 scorer Thyme Hill all feature in what’s set to be one the most compelling races of the week.

Also, on Thursday, Allaho is aiming for more glory in the Ryanair Steeple Chase (14:50, March 17). The Willie Mullins-trained horse opened up the field in the race last year and is unbeaten this season. Can he provide his Irish trainer and fans with a big-race win on St. Patrick's Day?

Gold Cup there for the taking

The centrepiece of the Cheltenham Festival is, of course, the Gold Cup itself (15:30, March 18) and jump racing's most coveted prize looks to be right up for grabs this year. 

Last year's winner Minella Indo hasn't hit the same heights this season, though he was second in the Irish Gold Cup recently, while Henry De Bromhead-trained stablemate A Plus Tard was second last year under Rachael Blackmore and has eyes on the prize again.

He was beaten last time out by Galvin, who will be bidding to give trainer Gordon Elliott a second career win in the Gold Cup and is a coming force at eight years old. 

Al Boum Photo won the race in 2019 and 2020 but could only manage third last time – and only the great Kauto Star has been able to regain the Gold Cup before. British hopes are set to be led by Protektorat for brothers Dan and Harry Skelton – but who will emerge victorious in the Blue Riband at Cheltenham?

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