Connect with us

Races

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2022: Antepost | Three Mouthwatering Head-to-Head’s

Our three picks for the best duels to expect at next year’s Cheltenham Festival

Published

on

Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 13, 2019 Keith Donoghue celebrates winning the 4.10 Glenfarclas Chase on Tiger Roll Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

2021 produced four days of jump racing’s usual frenetic four-day mid-March drama with the best of National Hunt taking to the Cheltenham Festival to entertain us while we remained from the comfort of our homes.

888 Promotion

Twelve months on, the jockeys and horses will rightfully receive the atmosphere they deserve at Prestbury Park with 28 scintillating races headlining the calendar in this sphere of the sport.

Jockey Rachael Blackmore celebrates after winning the Ryanair Chase on Allaho during day three of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Picture date: Thursday March 18, 2021.
The 2021 Cheltenham Festival was held behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

But which titanic battles are we most looking forward to ahead of next year’s renewal of the biggest and best festival on the planet?

Find out if you agree with our top 3 most anticipated duels…

SIR GERHARD vs. JONBON | Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2m 87) | Tuesday 15th March 2022

The first big battle between Ireland and England is likely to arrive in the opener.

Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 17, 2021 Rachael Blackmore wins the 4.50 Weatherbys Champion Bumper on Sir Gerhard Pool via REUTERS/Alan Crowhurst
Sir Gerhard saw off Kilcruit at the Cheltenham Festival but that form was overturned at Punchestown

Although Kilcruit remains the current favourite, he is shorter for the Ballymore and equally priced for the Albert Bartlett so there is uncertainty as to whether his future truly lies at two miles.

With that in context, the door looks open for Sir Gerhard to prove his worth at this trip despite his Punchestown disappointment behind his new stable-mate. He was possibly unsuited by the quicker ground that he’d never raced on but had shown plenty of class in his three outings under rules before that.

WATCH: SIR GERHARD WINS THE CHAMPION BUMPER [CREDIT: RACING TV]

His biggest rival could be Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon, who was acquired by owner JP McManus for a whopping £570,000 at the Goffs UK November Sale after his sole Irish point-to-point success.

The full brother to Douvan left a taking impression on debut at Newbury under Nico De Boinville and Seven Barrows look to have a real Graded contender on their hands if he resonates that form over timber.

Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain - March 13, 2019 Racehorse owner JP McManus as he arrives REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
JP McManus has not celebrated success in the Supreme since 2008 but has owned three runner-up’s in that time

Classic Getaway is a tasty 16-1 and was an easy winner on his first run under rules recently, but the expensive Cheveley Park House Stud recruit is unlikely to contest against his fellow Closutton and owned counterpart.

SHISHKIN vs. ENERGUMENE | Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (1m 7f 199y) | Wednesday 16th March 2022

The race that didn’t quite materialise in March may well take place in open company instead.

There will have been disappointment lingering around the National Hunt world when Energumene was confirmed to be injured and miss his Arkle clash with Shishkin.

WATCH: SHISHKIN SECURES A SECOND FESTIVAL WIN IN THE 2021 ARKLE [CREDIT: RACING TV]

But there is no reason to think why it can’t take place in the Wednesday feature, with the fact that reigning champion Put The Kettle On does not even figure in the top five betting of the contest outlining the depth.

It has always been the race that has evaded Willie Mullins, with that frustration growing further when odds-on favourite Chacun Pour Soi could only muster third.

Energumene ridden by Paul Townend clears a fence on their way to winning the Patrick Ward & Co. Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase during day one of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse. Picture date: Saturday February 6, 2021.
Will Energumene give Willie Mullins his first Champion Chase success in 2022?

But his Punchestown glory set him back on track as one of the star’s of the division, but perhaps the new kid on the block will be the one that Paul Townend sides with next campaign.

Nicky Henderson, meanwhile, has trained former heroes Sprinter Sacre and Altior to successive Arkle-Champion Chase doubles and his brilliant son of Sholokhov will aim to replicate with the hat-trick for the Berkshire yard.

TIGER ROLL vs. EASYSLAND | Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase (3m 6f 37y) | Wednesday 16th March 2022

Seconds out, round 3, anyone?

Both Tiger Roll and Easysland have inflicted massacres on each other in the previous two Festival’s and there will not have been a dry eye when the Gigginstown House Stud gelding returned with a bang in Gloucestershire back in March.

WATCH: TIGER ROLL SEES OFF EASYSLAND TO WIN AT THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL FOR THE FIFTH TIME [CREDIT: RACING TV]

Revenge must’ve tasted sweet given David Cottin’s reverse of the form a year earlier, winning by 17-lengths, and perhaps the single run between his appearances in the race was his downfall four months ago.

RYF281 Keith Donoghue celebrates winning the Glenfarclas Chase aboard Tiger Roll during Ladies Day of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Keith Donoghue has partnered Tiger Roll to three of his five Cheltenham wins

And with the honours now even a one apiece, it surely makes sense that the score is settled, with the presence of 60,000 racegoers adding more fizzle to the occasion compared to the bare stands we witnessed earlier this year.

JP McManus is the most successful owner in Cross Country Chase history with seven wins, including with Cause Of Causes (pictured), Easysland and Josies Orders

The French raider remains the favourite despite his humbling in more recent history, but he will only be eight by the time the pair potentially meet again, while the duel Grand National hero is entering his twelfth year.

Dominic Chapman is senior content writer at Low6 with a passion for horse racing. He provides a NAP and NB every day throughout the week on selected National Hunt and Flat cards in both Britain and Ireland. Additionally, he hosts the Paddock Picks Podcast with former Welsh Grand National-winning pilot, Charlie Poste - the pair interviewing and discussing current racing topics with a special guest every week.

Advertisement