2022 Cheltenham Festival Tips: Shishkin stars in four selections for next year

2022 Cheltenham Festival Tips: Shishkin to storm to Champion Chase glory.
2022 Cheltenham Festival Tips: Shishkin to storm to Champion Chase glory.

Alex Stearn takes a long-range look at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, and selects four ante-post selections for four races at next year's festival...

Monkfish – Cheltenham Gold Cup

Willie Mullins lost his crown as the Cheltenham Gold Cup winning trainer this year when Al Boum Photo could only finish a gallant third and despite Monkfish having to step out of novice company next year, and after winning as he liked in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase, he could well take a strong hand in the showpiece of the festival. 

His jumping round Cheltenham wasn’t as slick as his previous efforts in Ireland and his blunder at the last was a bit of a scare for short odds-on backers but with more experience to come next season, those types of errors can be ironed out. He travels through his races with ease and wouldn’t be taken out of his comfort zone by more seasoned chasers. He was still extending up the hill and putting more distance between himself and the rest of his toiling opposition, presenting no doubts he’ll stay the extra two-furlongs, making him a leading contender for the Gold Cup in 2022.

2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Monkfish silk

Monkfish

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Shishkin – Champion Chase

Nicky Henderson didn’t have much to get excited about over the course of the four days but Shishkin was a sparkling light in the Arkle in an otherwise below-standard week. He was absolutely electric in a strongly run Arkle, giving a 12-length beating to a fairly smart field without ever having to be asked a serious question. 

His jumping was pin-point accurate all the way round the two-mile trip and you could have been fooled that he only joined in half-way round when Nico De Boinville moved him upsides the leaders before the third last, seemingly laughing at his opposition. His jump three out swiftly moved him to the front and he soon put clear daylight between himself and the rest under the gentlest of urgings and the race was never in any doubt after that as he stormed up the run-in. The race was somewhat cut-up after Energumene was ruled out before declarations, but it would have taken a very special performance from him to have laid down a challenge to Shishkin and I can’t see any different outcome in next year’s Champion Chase.

2022 Champion Chase
Shishkin silk

Shishkin

Grand National Odds

Honeysuckle – Champion Hurdle

Rachael Blackmore showed this week what many racing fans were already pretty sure of – that she is one hell of a talented jockey. The ability she has to read a race in-running was truly a sight to behold, whether she was making all on Allaho or always having Honeysuckle in the right place throughout the running of the Champion Hurdle

Not only was Blackmore sublime on the latter occasion, Kenny Alexander’s mare was in a different league to the rest of her rivals when scampering up the run-in and taking her record to a perfect 11 from 11. She was expertly positioned throughout the contest and was faultless at her hurdles, often moving herself further forward than Blackmore wanted her to be. When she made her challenge, she never looked like being beaten, only having to be shaken up before the last – making last years winner Epatante look slow, on ground that some people had questioned for her. Now they know she has nothing to fear outside of mares only company, she could be the dominant force in this division and it would take a really smart performer to come out of the woodwork to serve it up to her.

2022 Champion Hurdle
Honeysuckle silk

Honeysuckle

Appreciate It – Arkle

Seven-year-old winners of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle are few and far between and plenty of people thought that Appreciate It was a vulnerable favourite on Day one this year because of his age. But he soon quashed that trend in a matter of strides and registered a whopping 24-length win from what was considered a useful yardstick in Ballyadam. That set the tone for the rest of the week in terms of Irish dominance and without a change to NH racing from the top-down in this country, it will be a similar story for years to come, starting with next year. 

If the Irish don’t win the Supreme next year, they’ll only have to wait until race two of the week to get one on the board. Appreciate It will be back for more Cheltenham glory in the Arkle next year - fences are surely on the horizon for him. He’s a big stamp of a horse and having very good point-to-point form gives the impression there is more to come from him when tackling the larger obstacles. He’s head and shoulders (almost literally) above anything else that looks like moving into the novice chase division and without having to question whether he has the speed to cope with the minimum trip anymore, he will head back to Prestbury Park with a serious chance of winning at a third festival in a row.

2022 Arkle
Appreciate It silk

Appreciate It

2022 Cheltenham Festival Odds
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