The excitement is already building ahead of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.
Which horses could write their names into the history books come the spring?
With early entries already in for several of the festival’s blue-riband races, we’re set to see some of the sport’s biggest superstars slug it out at Prestbury Park between 15th and 18th March.
Here’s what the Cheltenham ante-post betting is saying as the festival creeps closer…
Cheltenham Ante-Post Betting Tips | Who Could Shine At The 2022 Festival?
🏇🏇 Day 1 – Champion Hurdle
🔁 Ante-post favourite: Honeysuckle – 4/6
It seems bookies and racing alike are still sweet on the chances of Honeysuckle retaining her Champion Hurdle crown this March.
Henry De Bromhead’s imperious eight-year-old has still yet to taste defeat since her first fledgling run under the guidance of Rachael Blackmore back in November 2018, and eased home by 6 1/2 L against regular rival Sharjah in last year’s renewal.
The 2021 runner-up is all set for another showdown with the reigning champ and is a 34/5 chance in the early betting having warmed up nicely for the Festival with wins at Punchestown and Leopardstown this winter.
Appreciate It could be the most prominent thorn in the side of Honeysuckle as she looks to add this Festival prize alongside the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle he secured in magnificent style last term.
Willie Mullins has kept his talented nine-year-old’s schedule as light as possible this season, with the Irish Champion Hurdle his first sighting since last March’s festival success.
🏇🏇 Day 2 – Queen Mother Champion Chase
🔁 Ante-post favourite: Shishkin – 22/25
Perhaps the most eagerly-anticipated match-up of the entire festival sees Shishkin (22/5) and Energumene once again go head-to-head after a breathless Ascot battle of wills in the Clarence House Chase back in March.
Nico de Boinville executed the perfect gameplan to guide Shishkin home by 1L in that Berkshire skirmish, and it could be a close-run thing yet again here with Energumenea 99/50 shot to turn the tables at Prestbury Park.
However, this Grade 1 test does have a tendency to throw up a surprise winner, with Politologue (6/1) and Put The Kettle On (17/2) both managing to outsmart odds-on favourites in 2020 and 2021.
That could mean it could be wise to take note of reliable Cheltenham performer Nube Negra (31/5) who finished runner-up in this last year and proved that run was no fluke with victory in the Shloer Chase here back in November.
Who are you backing at Cheltenham?
🏇🏇 Day 3 – Ryanair Chase
🔁 Ante-post favourite: Allaho – 57/50
An awesome front-foot display from Allaho capped off Rachael Blackmore’s stunning 2021 festival in this race last year.
The eight-year-old looks increasingly hard to argue against as he looks to repeat that feat having made a flawless start to this season with comfortable wins at Punchestown and Thurles, but we’ll know more about just how likely a seamless title defence will be after the Dublin Chase this February.
Could stablemate Tornado Flyer (37/4) prove his shock King George VI success was no fluke?
The Cheltenham Gold Cup could be his eventual destination, but he’s been tentatively entered for this test.
After that career-best Kempton success, he’s surely proved he has all the credentials to better last year’s third-place finish if he ends up trading blows with one of his sparring partners in Thursday’s feature race.
A shock fall for the previously unstoppable Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novice’s Chase was one of the major storylines of last year’s Festival.
Starting out as the hot 4/9 favourite, the eight-year-old fell at the fourth fence to lose his shield of invincibility, but wins this season at Down Royal and Leopardstown suggest a redemption story could be on the cards in the Ryanair, with 42/5 the price for a fairytale comeback.
🏇🏇 Day 4 – Cheltenham Gold Cup
🔁 Ante-post favourite: A Plus Tard – 13/5
Finally, it’s the big one on the Friday… will we be in for a surprise winner for a sixth time in 10 years?
Minella Indo (a 39/5 chance for this year) made headway to land the biggest prize in National Hunt racing as a 9/1 shot last year, a victory all the more surprising for that fact it was achieved without regular partner Rachael Blackmore taking the ride.
Jack Kennedy would be the beneficiary as he secured the most famous win of his career, successfully holding off Blackmore in second on A Plus Tard.
It’s the latter that starts as the 13/5 ante-post favourite, but as the history books show, this isn’t necessary an event that is a respecter of reputation coming into the race.
This year’s renewal looks amongst the most competitive in years, with a whole of swathe of contenders holding leading claims.
Saint Calvados could be the pick of the each-way shouts at a longer ante-post price (45/1) if the heavens open on Gold Cup day. He lost out to Min by a neck in the 2020 Ryanair Chase and proved he has the capability for this stamina test with his showing at Kempton on Boxing Day.
A fine run when third in the King George VI at 25/1 suggests he could have claims if Paul Nicholls decides to eschew the Ryanair and throw him into Friday’s flagpole race.
🏆 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting | Ante-Post Favourites 🏆
A Plus Tard – 13/5Galvin – 85/20Al Boum Photo – 39/5Minella Indo – 39/5Any other runner – 15/1 and upwards
Odds and information correct at time of writing (02/02/2022) but are subject to change.