Cheltenham Festival Tips 2022 – Day 1
With less than 3 weeks to go until the start of four extraordinary days of racing from Tuesday 15th to Friday 18th March 2022. Featuring 14 Grade One races across four seven-racecards as the best horses, trainers and jockeys go head to head.
We have a couple of festival ante-post bets for you below.
It’s a bit tricky finding value at this stage especially as many prices have already been cut after the December meeting, and they’re still not guaranteed to run! But hopefully the two selections below will be going and if that’s the case then they should both have a good chance.
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Jamie’s early selections.
GALVIN FOR GOLD CUP GLORY!
Friday 18th March – Cheltenham Gold Cup Galvin – 4/1 generally (1pt win)
Excitement is beginning to grow stronger towards the season’s main jumps meeting, the Cheltenham Festival 2022, which is now less than 4 weeks away.
Last year’s Gold Cup saw Minella Indo out-stay A Plus Tard up the famous hill, with dual-race winner Al Boum Photo back in third, and all three of those horses are likely to line-up again in the 2022 renewal. It’s hard to fancy Henry De Bromhead’s nine-year-old to follow up last year’s success after being pulled-up in the King George, but three-miles on a flat track wouldn’t have suited and this test of stamina is more to his liking. Al Boum Photo has used his usual stepping stone for this race with a fourth successive victory in a Grade 3 at Tramore, but now at the age of ten-years-old, may find it tough against younger legs, whilst King George winner Tornado Flyer will need to prove that he can handle this type of stamina test.
A Plus Tard laughed at his rivals in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, winning at a canter by 22-lengths and he was agonisingly denied a fourth Grade 1 when collared on the line in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown. The winner of that race was Gordon Elliott’s improving stayer GALVIN, and it’s this eight-year-old who I’m pinning my colours to.
He brings both course & festival form to the table having won last season’s National Hunt Chase over 3m6f, as well as finishing a close second the previous year in the 2m4f ‘Northern Trust Company Novices’ Chase’, showing that he has both stamina and speed to be competitive in a race like this. Since that second-placed finish at the 2019 festival he’s shown outrageous consistency with form figures of 1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1, four of those coming in graded company. He has won on varying ground, with victories on both good and soft, and despite not being on many people’s radar at the beginning of the season, he’s certainly caught my eye and has put himself firmly in the frame to give his trainer a second win in this prestigious race.
Gary’s early bets.
IRISH GEM ‘BRAZIL’ IN THE BOODLES!
Tuesday 15th March – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – Brazil 8/1 generally (1pt win)
As most or my members will know I generally focus on the flat racing. But I do love Cheltenham and I’ve been watching Brazil ever since he started his jumps career after leaving Aiden O’Brien and joining the relatively new Padraig Roche yard over in Ireland. He’s had just the four starts for that yard (10 in total) and on each occasion he’s done nothing but impress me. Held up in the rear in all three of his maiden races at both Punchestown (twice) and Leopardstown, he’s stayed on really well each time with very little encouragement from the saddle, and minus a few sketchy jumps and being a bit ‘raw’, he’s really impressed with his jumping as well.
He then went to Naas for a novice hurdle race and despite my reservations about how much interest his connections had on him actually winning, I decided that it was more than likely a smart move to have him win a novice race off his opening mark (119) before going handicapping. That assumption was proved to be bang on as he was heavily backed in the market from the 11/2 that I tipped him at, all the way in to 9/4f. And boy, he certainly didn’t disappoint as he absolutely sluiced up to win by a hard-held 13 lengths.
We can’t get too carried away with that victory as the time was nothing special and a couple of rivals may have underperformed, including the second fav ‘Sleigh’, but the way he travelled in that race suggested that there’s plenty more to come when given a bigger test and he just looked the real-deal in many ways, his size, the way he travelled and jumped etc etc.
His price has more than halved since that victory and I was maybe a little slow on the uptake (maybe should have searched oddschecker prices to see where he was aimed) but I did look for an entry at the big meeting and he’s still not been entered in anything. That said, I’ve had a look on the facebook page of the trainer and although I’ve not had an answer to my (cheeky) question about the horse being entered in the Boodles, the suspicion is that he’ll be heading to Cheltenham for the big juvenile handicap hurdle.
His mark has risen to 133 after that easy Naas victory but he’s surely got a very bright future ahead of him and if taking well to the tough Gloucestershire track then he’ll run a big race.
Keep Stakes Low There’s Three More Days After This!
Tuesday 15th March – Gary’s fancies
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 1:30 Cheltenham, Constitutional Hill – 1pt win @3.5
I’m not going to get too involved in this race with it being a novice, full of inexperienced types and of course the first race of the meeting which historically takes in the rowdy crowd and the famous Cheltenham roar which can often unnerve these relatively young novices. So, I’m going to keep it simple and suggest backing who I think is the best horse in the race ‘Constitutional Hill’ who’s been so impressive when winning his last two starts. A strong pace looks guaranteed tomorrow and if he can show the same turn of foot that he showed when winning both his races at Sandown, then I think he could be hard to beat.
Both those races were on much softer ground than tomorrow’s however, but it’s far too early to say that he’s soft ground dependant, and with the ground likely to be softer tomorrow than any other time during the meeting (nice weather forecast) I think he’ll be hard to beat so long as his inexperience doesn’t get the better of him and he boils over going to the start.
Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase – 2:10 Cheltenham, Riviere D’etel – 1pt e/w @5 generally (4 places)
7th in the Fred Winter last year, this Gordon Elliot trained filly has blossomed into a smart chaser, having won 3 of her 5 races since her run here last year, only going down by 1/2L behind ‘Blue Lord’ last time, and had she not made a mess of the last and then got a bit short of room, then I think she’d have won. She can still make the odd mistake but she’s improved so much in the jumping department compared to last year, and if she has a clear round of jumping then I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t finish in the first 4.
Ultima Handicap Chase – 2:50 Cheltenham, Floueur – 0.5pt e/w @8 generally (6-7 places)
Ex- hurdler for JP O’Brien who’s now with Gordon Elliot for a life over the bigger obstacles and has improved with each start, with his biggest run to date when finishing third to stable mate and the re-opposing ‘Death Duty’ who, despite being on the same terms despite that win (Irish/UK ratings differ) with much preferable ground conditions tomorrow along with the 3lb claimed by his apprentice who won on him at Fairyhouse, he should be able to reverse that form and then some. He finished like a train in last year’s Matin Pipe Hurdle over 2m 4.5f and back at this track, if he can maintain a solid round of jumping tomorrow, then I think he should be thereabouts.
Ultima Handicap Chase – 2:50 Cheltenham, Gericault Rock – 0.5pt e/w @11 generally (6-7 places)
This isn’t normally a race that favours horses that have yet to run at Cheltenham, but this horse looks a stayer in the making and has gotten in here off a very lightweight. He’s yet to win over fences but he’s run well in each of his four starts with an excellent 2nd at Newbury on his penultimate start in a race that’s working out well and was won in a very good time considering the heavy ground they encountered that day. He followed up with a big run at Warwick finishing 2nd behind a very useful Emma Levelle stayer who’s franked that form himself subsequently finishing 2nd in the Eider at Newcastle. David Pipe has an excellent record in this race having won it three times and despite being 5lb wrong at the weights, I fancy him to go well also.
More tips will follow in the morning.
Jamie’s Fancies – Please note: We both like the chances of ‘Riviere D’etel’ in the 2:10 so if you’ve already backed her it’s your choice whether you want to back her again.
#NAP – 2.10 Cheltenham – RIVIERE D’ETEL (9/2) – Bet365 – 1pt win – This mare was beaten just under seven-lengths in last year’s Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, when travelling powerfully into the race but she may well have gone to win his race a bit too far from home that day, and just didn’t see her race out. She’s gone chasing this term, and began life over fences with three comfortable successes, which has included both Grade 2 & 3 wins. She hasn’t won in her last two outings, but she hasn’t been beaten far in both of those.
The first of those was when beaten by the very talented Ferny Hollow, by a length-and-a-half, in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase. The last day saw her throw away her chance of victory in the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival, when making a mistake at the last fence, before staying-on well through the line, but just couldn’t get back to the re-opposing Blue Lord. I think with a clear round she can reverse the form with him, she gets her mares allowance too, so is receiving 7lb from all but one of her rivals and hopefully she can provide Gordon Elliott with a first success in the race (his sole runner in this year’s renewal). I can also see Saint Sam running a good race for Willie Mullins, looks a nice each-way bet.
#NB – 4.10 Cheltenham – STORMY IRELAND (5/1) – Bet365 – 1pt win – This eight-year-old has won nine of her 23 races over hurdles, which has included three listed & five graded successes. The most recent of those came the last day, when getting the better of McFabulous in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle over the extended 2m4f on the new course here. She may have been a tad fortunate, as Brewin’upastorm fell at the last when mounting a challenge, but there’s every chance that Wille Mullins’ mare would’ve held on had that rival not fallen. She’s a multiple winner over this middle distance, she has no real preference for the going and she looks the main hope for her trainer who has a fine record in this race, having saddled nine of the race’s 14 previous winners. If she can reproduce the form of her Relkeel win, or any of her two Graded wins in Ireland last spring, then she’ll be a tough nut to crack.
#IWAC – 4.50 Cheltenham – CHAMPION GREEN (12/1) – Bet365 – 0.5pt ew (6 places) – Joseph O’Brien won this race back in 2019 with the well-backed Band Of Outlaws. He has a couple in the field this year and it’s his JP McManus-owned gelding who gets my vote. He’s been consistent in his career to date (apart from when pulled-up on penultimate start, when the saddle slipped and his jockey had no other choice), he’s had two wins and his three defeats over hurdles haven’t been by that far. He was quite impressive the last day in a Naas maiden, winning on the bridle with his jockey hardly having to ask any questions of this horse.
Rachel Blackmore has been booked for the ride, which can only be a big plus, he’ll be fine with the ground conditions/trip, an opening mark of 125 looks more than manageable, and he’s carrying a nice low weight of 10-11. It’s a typically impossible puzzle to solve but I’d like to think he’s got a good each-way chance.
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