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Cheltenham Festival 2022: 3 Big Names to Avoid In the Betting

Cheltenham 2022 (15th – 18th March) is quickly approaching, and there is nothing quite like it for UK (and Irish) racing punters. Even the fabled Grand National – the race that stops a nation – tends to play second fiddle to the four-day event these days. As ever at this time of year, there is a huge amount of buzz in the ante-post markets, with several market leaders positioning themselves as firm favorites for some of Cheltenham’s biggest races.

Of course, plenty of punters will have got in early, backing ante-post horses with long odds, and they will hope to see the fruits of their labor pay-off next month. But, as with all racing events, there can be pitfalls, runners whose odds look a little short and who may end up making punters wince. We know this for sure, as it happens every year.

Honeysuckle well-backed for Champion Hurdle repeat

Right now, the horse with the shortest odds in all 28 races is Honeysuckle, the clear favorite and consensus betting tip for the Champion Hurdle. You can see the logic, of course, as Honeysuckle ticks every box you look for in a Champion Hurdle, and the mare has looked every bit like the reigning champion in her runouts so far this season.

But while Honeysuckle will be one of the first names on everyone’s slip, we wanted to look at a few big names who might be in a bit of jeopardy. Horses that we believe might slip up and make a mockery of their status as ante-post favorites. In short, we want to pick out three big names to avoid and spell out the reasons why your money should go elsewhere:

  1. Shishkin – Champion Chase

Fans of the imperious Shishkin might call this blasphemous, but we cannot help but feel Nicky Henderson’s star two-miler is a little bit short at 1/2 (-200) for the Champion Chase. There is absolutely nothing to criticize about the horse’s form, preparation or pedigree; it is simply that Energumene is a worthy rival who should have a shorter price than the 3/1 (+300) currently on offer. Yes, Shishkin did beat Energumene a couple of weeks ago in one of the best Clarence House Chases we have seen in an age, but it wasn’t by much. With a little bit of luck, Energumene could have reversed that and still could at Cheltenham. Shishkin is a worthy favorite, but he might not just be the lock he is made out to be.

  1. Flooring Porter – Stayers’ Hurdle

Experienced horse racing bettors will know exactly the type of scenario that leads to Flooring Porter being favorite for the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle on St Patrick’s Day: He is the market leader because someone has to be. To explain, the Stayers’ Hurdle market has chopped and changed over the last few months. Klassical Dream and Champ were both favorites at different points, but then dropped down after registering disappointing performances. So, the bookies have installed last year’s winner, Flooring Porter, in what seems a kind of placeholder position. Yes, Flooring Porter has done it all before, but his form since then reads: Unseated Rider, Pulled Up, 2nd (behind Klassical Dream). This is going to be an open race, and we would recommend looking further down the card for inspiration and some betting value.

  1. A Plus Tard – Cheltenham Gold Cup

Another who might deserve the tag of favorite, but we would be reluctant to back A Plus Tard at 3/1 for the blue-ribband event of the Cheltenham Festival. The form of Henry de Bromhead’s 8yo, who finished runner up to Minella Indo last year, has been good, but we wouldn’t say it has been spectacular. In his latest outing, A Plus Tard was second behind Galvin at Leopardstown, but the pair see their positions reversed as first and second-favorite for the Gold Cup. As with the Stayers’ Hurdle, there is strength and depth all over the card, but it might be wiser to have a nibble at some of those with bigger prices, including Al Boum Photo at 10/1 (+1000) and Chantry House (+1600).

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