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2022 Cheltenham Festival Tips: Four to follow at next year's festival

2022 Cheltenham Festival Tips: Honeysuckle tipped to retain Champion Hurdle crown next season.
2022 Cheltenham Festival Tips: Honeysuckle tipped to retain Champion Hurdle crown next season.

Lewis Tomlinson takes a long-range look at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, and picks out four selections that can reign supreme at Prestbury Park next year...

Honeysuckle - Champion Hurdle

Of those who won championship races at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, Honeysuckle is shortest in the betting to retain her title, and I think she’s the likeliest as well. Her Champion Hurdle success kicked off Henry De Bromhead’s unique Festival “Holy Trinity”, along with Put The Kettle On’s Champion Chase win and Minella Indo’s victory in the Gold Cup, and provided Rachael Blackmore with the valuable prize across her groundbreaking week.

Sharjah and Epatante appeared to run close to their best in chasing Honeysuckle home, so the form is credible, and there doesn’t appear to be too much new blood coming through that looks capable of knocking Honeysuckle off her perch. Supreme winner Appreciate It is already seven, is surely likelier to go chasing, whilst the current market suggests the future for her stablemate, Ballymore winner Bob Olinger, also lies over fences. Five-year-olds generally have a poor record in their first season in open company, which doesn’t bode well for another stablemate, Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios. He shapes like more of a stayer, anyway, and Ferny Hollow’s sole run over hurdles wouldn’t be enough to cause alarm bells to ring just yet, impressive form though it is.

It’s rather scary that Honeysuckle appears to be improving, and she may arrive at Cheltenham next season an even better model than the one who dismantled a good field this year, but she probably won’t have in order to make it back-to-back Champion Hurdles.

2022 Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle silk

Honeysuckle

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Shishkin - Champion Chase

Nicky Henderson has been blessed in the past decade with legendary two-milers Sprinter Sacre and Altior winning two Champion Chases apiece for the Seven Barrows trainer, and Shishkin looks capable of at least matching the achievements of that famous pair.

Barring when taking a tumble on his hurdles debut, Shishkin remains unbeaten under Rules and has posted his two most impressive career victories at the Cheltenham Festival, overcoming a horror passage to win the Supreme last year and was utterly electric in winning the Arkle last week, settling the race in a number of strides when asked to by Nico De Boinville. It’s that rare, brutal turn of foot that is the most potent weapon in Shishkin’s arsenal; he has an exceptional ability to kill the race without having to fully extend and there’s surely few on horses on this planet that look capable of even taking Shishkin out of his comfort zone, never mind beating him.

It’s not the most groundbreaking analysis, but Shishkin is just a ridiculously good racehorse, and I think his performance in the Arkle would’ve already been good enough to have won the race this year. The race has an undoubtedly beatable champion, albeit one with a flawless Cheltenham record, in Put The Kettle On, and it’s easy to envisage Shishkin still being unbeaten this time next year, with another Festival victory on his CV.

2022 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Shishkin silk

Shishkin

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My Drogo - Marsh Novices' Chase

This is the most leftfield inclusion in this accumulator, but I think My Drogo is badly underestimated at 40-1 to go close in next season’s Marsh Novices' Chase. Those heading the betting, including the likes of Appreciate It and Bob Olinger, are versatile enough to have viable options in a number of Festival races, whereas I think a mid-range trip over fences will be exactly what My Drogo wants this time next year.

Dan Skelton has firmly applied the “everything he does over hurdles is a bonus” cliche to My Drogo this season, and the son of one-time Grand Annual runner-up My Petra is clearly still a work in progress, which makes his dual-Grade 2 winning novice hurdle season all the more impressive.

Skelton felt this year’s Cheltenham Festival would come too early in the career for My Drogo, but he took no issue with the track when second in a Cheltenham bumper on his debut, and it will only one or two included the current ante-post market to have their sights set elsewhere for the race to look an open contest.

My Drogo isn’t far off being Britain’s best novice hurdler, and he should be even better next season with a bigger obstacle in front of him and further to gallop, so the Marsh looks an ideal medium-term target for this exciting prospect.

2022 Marsh Novices' Chase
My Drogo silk

My Drogo

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Monkfish - Cheltenham Gold Cup

Now, in winning the Brown Advisory last week, Monkfish gave his backers at 1-4 more to worry about than he had done in the three chase starts previously. He slowed into one or two fences, and lacked fluency at others, but the fact remains - Monkfish was good enough to comfortably win a Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 with his worst performance of the season.

He still ran his final four furlongs in a quicker time than Put The Kettle On did in winning the Champion Chase and was clearing away at the finish, Paul Townend probably wise to bide his time until the jumping was done with the loose Eklat De Rire too close for comfort over the last.

His performances in Ireland earlier in the season were jaw-dropping, effortlessly tanking his way through the Flogas without ever putting a foot wrong at his fences, and a replication of that would make him the horse to beat in the Gold Cup in twelve months time.

The inherent talent possessed by this horse is rare, and Monkfish will have no issue with the extended trip or with being able to go a Cheltenham Gold Cup pace. He’s already a three-time Grade 1 winner over fences after only four starts, and with another year’s worth of experience on his back, he could be a frightening proposition

2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Monkfish silk

Monkfish

2022 Cheltenham Festival Odds

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