Cheltenham Odds: Who will go off the shortest priced favourite at the festival?

Honeysuckle is set to be an odds-on favourite for the Champion Hurdle.
Honeysuckle is set to be an odds-on favourite for the Champion Hurdle.

We are a week away from the Cheltenham Festival, and as final preparations begin to take place across the UK & Ireland, punters are beginning to finalise their ante-post positions ahead of the imminent entries. Three horses are sure to be the centre of many a multiple heading to the four-day National Hunt extravaganza, but which one of Honeysuckle, Shishkin and Allaho will start off as the shortest-priced favourite?

All three of those equine superstars were imperious at last season's festival with Honeysuckle reigning supreme in the Champion Hurdle by six-and-a-half lengths, while Shishkin was a runaway 12-length winner of the Arkle, with Allaho winning the Ryanair Chase by the same distance.

Now, that triumvirate are set to head to Cheltenham as red-hot odds-on favourites for their respective races, with both Honeysuckle (Champion Hurdle) and Allaho (Ryanair Chase) aiming to retain their Grade 1 crowns, while Shishkin will step out of the novice division and line up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Unbeaten all season, the pair will be regarded as the bankers of the meeting, and the treble pays around the 3/1 mark, incidentally, for those looking to back the trio, but which one will start the shortest priced favourite?

Honeysuckle currently sits as the shortest-priced favourite at the moment at 4/7 for Champion Hurdle glory, while Shishkin and Allaho are both available at 4/6 for their respective races, but could the Henry De Bromhead-trained mare go off a little bigger, should the support for his Champion Hurdle rivals increase.

Cheltenham Tips

Honeysuckle - 4/7 for Champion Hurdle

A sensational 100% record has rocketed Honeysuckle to the top of the hurdling tree, but while she does set the standard in the 2022 Champion Hurdle, she will face a huge rival in the shape of Appreciate It, who has been pleasing trainer Willie Mullins in the lead-up to the contest. A 7/2 second favourite, Appreciate It hasn't been seen since bounding to a clear victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season, and if he can kick on from that Grade 1 obliteration then he could well give Honeysuckle something to think about. Add in the progressive duo of Teahupoo and Adagio, plus former winner Epatante, Honeysuckle will face arguably her toughest task, and it would be no surprise to see her drift slightly should the support come for the Mullins raider.

Shishkin - 4/6 for Queen Mother Champion Chase

Arguably the highlight of the jumps season has been the epic dual between Shishkin and Energumene in the Clarence House Chase, and the pair are set for a mouth-watering rematch in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on March 16. A best-priced 4/6 favourite with the bookmakers, Shishkin was made to work at Ascot to down the front-running Energumene, who is sure to try the same lead-all-the-way tactics once again on his first visit to Cheltenham. However, the undulations of Cheltenham means it's a whole new test for the Willie Mullins-trained raider, who will be joined by stablemate Chacun Pour Soi, who will look to improve on last year's disappointing effort. A dual festival winner Shishkin is sure to be tough to beat, and it's hard to see his price ease in a pretty solid market, so the 4/6 is a likely SP, if not shorter come race time.

Allaho - 4/6 for Ryanair Chase

A real scintillating display in last year's Ryanair Chase launched Allaho into the limelight, and the 2m 5f test the Ryanair has to offer appears to be tailor-made for the Mullins-trained raider, and the 4/6 about him retaining his crown is more than fair. A dominant winner of the John Durkan at Punchestown at the start of the season, he then cruised to victory over subsequent Grade 1 winner Fakir D'Oudairies at Thurles last time out, which should get him set up for this assignment. Energumene, A Plus Tard and Chacun Pour Soi sit behind him in the betting, and that trio are extremely unlikely to take their chance here, so the most likely opponents are Irish Gold Cup hero Conflated, who could head here instead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and Shan Blue, who lines up for Dan Skelton. Neither of them will be able to deal with the class of Allaho at his best, so it would be no shock to see Allaho go off significantly shorter on the day, with some 1/2 possibly the best on show at SP.


Both Honeysuckle and Shishkin appear to have some lively opposition for their respective races, and the likes of Appreciate It and Energumene could gain market support, but Allaho looks to be a real cut above his rivals in the Ryanair Chase, and with little strength in depth in the race then it's likely that he could well go off the shortest-priced favourite of the trio during the festival.

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