Cheltenham Festival 2022 | Sporting Index

Cheltenham Festival: Full Preview

The finest chasers, hurdlers, jockeys and trainers on the National Hunt scene are preparing to battle for glory at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival. This is the most prestigious meeting of the season, so every race attracts an elite field. We could witness career-defining moments during four action-packed days at Prestbury Park, so read on to learn more about the upcoming Cheltenham Festival and the exciting betting options at your disposal.

Cheltenham Festival Day One

This year’s Cheltenham Festival begins on Tuesday 15th March. There are no restrictions on fans attending, so there is a chance that racegoers could break the record set in 2019. The format is the same as previous years – four days of action, with seven races per day. There are only 40 Grade 1 races in an entire season, and 14 of them take place at the Cheltenham Festival. Four of them are held on the opening day, including the showpiece event: the Champion Hurdle.

The Champion Hurdle was first held all the way back in 1927. It is the most important hurdling event in the National Hunt calendar. Heavy favourite Honeysuckle won the race last year, and recent winners including luminaries such as Epatante and Buveur d’Air. The race takes place over 2m 87y. We make Honeysuckle the 8/15 favourite to defend her crown. However, she faces stern competition from Appreciate It, Teahupoo and 2020 champion Epatante.

The other Grade 1 races held on Day 1 are the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Arkle Challenge Trophy and the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle. Sir Gerhard, Constitution Hill and Dysart Dynamo are among the favourites for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The Arkle always generates a lot of attention, and Edwardstone, Blue Lord and Riviere Detel are the favourites this year.

Cheltenham Festival Day Two

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the main event on day two. It is the fourth race of the day, and it will draw the very best minimum-distance chasers in the business to battle it out over 2 miles in a bid for the ultimate glory. This is another big race with a heavy favourite, with Shishkin priced at 4/6 to win.

Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old gelding has 11 wins from 12 races throughout his illustrious career. The only blip came back in December 2019, when he fell at Newbury. Since then, he has won 10 in a row, including an eye-catching victory in the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January. Last year, Shishkin destroyed the field to win the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, so big things are expected of him this time around. However, he will have to be at the top of his game to fend off competition from two former winners – last year’s champion Put The Kettle On and 2020 victor Politologue – along with the popular Chacun Pour Soi.

There are three additional Grade 1 races on the Wednesday: the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle, the Brown Advisory Novices’ Hurdle and the Champion Bumper, the only flat race at the festival. However, the most eagerly anticipated race of them all may well be the Cross Country Chase. It will mark the last appearance of one of the most famous horses of all time.

Tiger Roll’s first big win came in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham back in 2018. He went on to win the Grand National the following month, winning the hearts of the nation with his plucky nature. Tiger Roll followed it up with yet another win in the Cross Country Chase in 2019, and he then became the first back-to-back Grand National champion since Red Rum in the 1970s. He was cruelly denied a chance of a hat-trick in 2020, as the National was cancelled due to the pandemic. He returned to winning ways with a third Cross Country triumph in 2021, but he did not enter the Grand National. Many hoped to see him compete this year, but owner Michael O’Leary withdrew him, citing the “idiotic opinion” of the handicapper that assigned him a 161 rating, so this will be his last hurrah. He is the 6/4 favourite.

Cheltenham Festival Day Three

There are lots more exciting races to look forward to on the third day of the action. Cheltenham typically becomes a sea of green on “St. Patrick’s Thursday” and the atmosphere inside Prestbury Park is often raucous. The headline race is the Stayers’ Hurdle, the most important long-distance hurdle event of the year.

The race gained a great deal of publicity in 2019, when blind owner Andrew Gemmell celebrated a famous, heart-warming win for Paisley Park. Since then, two long shots – 50/1 hopeful Lisnagar Oscar and 12/1 outsider Flooring Porter – have prevailed in the race, which is run over 2m 7f 213y. Flooring Porter is now the 10/3 favourite to go back-to-back, but Paisley Park is in contention, and Klassical Dream and Champ could prove dangerous.

The other major race on Day Three is the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase, which takes place 2m 4f 127y. Recent winners include Allaho, Min, Frodon, Balko des Flos and Un de Sceaux. Allaho is the odds-on favourite for another win. The Grade 1 Golden Miller Novices’ Chase – named after one of the most legendary runners in Cheltenham Festival history – will also be held on Day Three.

Cheltenham Festival Day Four

The most important race of the season takes place on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the blue riband event of jumps racing, with iconic former winners including Arkle, Golden Miller, Best Mate, Kauto Star, Denman and Mill House. Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo won in 2019 and 2020, but he could only finish third last year, with Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Indo storming to victory. It completed a magnificent festival for de Bromhead, who also won the Champion Hurdle and the Champion Chase.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place over 3m 2f 70y, with 22 fences to be jumped. Not only is it the most prestigious race of the year, it is also the most valuable non-handicap chase in Britain, so it always attracts a star-studded field. This year’s renewal is no exception. We make A Plus Tard and Galvin the 7/2 joint favourites, with Minella Indo priced at 5/1. Protektorat is at 8/1, Conflated is 10/1 and Al Boum Photo is also 10/1. Allaho is priced at 10/1 too, but may run in the Ryanair Chase instead.

A Plus Tard demolished his rivals by 22 lengths in the first Grade 1 race of the season, the Betfair Chase, and he was immediately installed as the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite. He is also part of the Henry de Bromhead stable, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, who was the star of the show at Cheltenham last year. A Plus Tard could only finish second in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown in his last appearance, narrowly beaten at the death by Galvin, so it will be fascinating to see that duo renew hostilities.

Day Four also features the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle and the Grade 1 Spa Novices’ Hurdle, while there will be a great deal of interest in the Foxhunter Chase, which is dubbed the “amateur Gold Cup”. It all draws to a close with the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at 5.30pm on Friday 18th March.

Cheltenham Festival Fixed Odds Betting

We have fixed-odds betting on every race at Cheltenham. The odds are already available, but they are liable to shift in the days ahead, so check them out and make your plays. You will see the each-way terms on each race, along with the current odds. If the horse is a non-runner, it will be settled as a no bet and you will get your stake back.

Cheltenham Festival Spread Betting

You will be able to enjoy Cheltenham Festival spread betting on each of the individual races, but we also have some fun markets on the entire festival. One popular option is Festival Favourites. This allows you to speculate on how well favourites will perform over the four days. A favourite gets 25 points for winning, 10 points for finishing second and 5 points for finishing third. We have priced this market at 274-289, so you can sell at 274 if you think favourites will struggle, or buy at 289 if you expect them to flourish. There are 28 races, so the maximum potential result would be 700.”

Another interesting market is Festival Distances. This allows you to predict the cumulative distance by which every race will be won. We have priced it at 110-120. A point is added for every length by which a race is won. A neck counts as 0.3 lengths, a head is 0.2 lengths and a short head is 0.1 lengths. Once again, you can either sell at 110 or buy at 120. There is a similar market on the distances between the second and third horses to finish each race, which is also priced at 110-120, and there is another on the distances between the first and third horses, priced at 222-238.”

You can bet on the biggest winning distance of the festival. We have priced it at 17-18, so sell if you do not expect any blowout victories, or buy at 18 if you anticipate a large win. Another option is the bet on the Biggest Winning SP (starting price). We have it at 46-48. You can buy at 48 if you expect a long-shot to triumph or sell at 46. You can also bet on the Prestbury Cup, which is awarded to the country – Ireland or Great Britain – that yields the most winners. Ireland has dominated in recent years, and Ireland is the 83–89-point favourite. We award 100 points for a win, a tie results in no points, and we deduct 100 points for a loss. There are Champions Distances markets to bet on too, so check out your Cheltenham Festival spread betting to dial up the fun.”

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