by Harvey Mayson, 22.02.2022
Most bookmakers have been offering Non-runner No bet on the Cheltenham Festival 2022 since the end of January. This means that you will have your stake returned should your horse not run. With so many horses holding multiple entries, this is a good insurance policy for those looking for some early value at this year’s National Hunt racing festival. We have picked out top ten each-way bets that should give you a good run for your money. Always remember to check the terms and conditions when placing your bet.
Trainer Willie Mullins is odds-on favourite to be Top Trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the ninth time this season. He has a typically strong team with multiple entries in many of the top races, particularly the novice events. State Man is currently around 16-1 for both the Supreme and the Ballymore behind stable companions Sir Gerhard and Dysart Dynamo but he looked a class act when winning easily at Limerick at the start of February.
Haut En Couleurs is a very lightly-raced French import and has a similar profile to State Man. He is behind stable companions Blue Lord and Saint Sam in the betting for the Arkle and the Turners at around 8-1. After a convincing win at Leopardstown in December he blotted his copybook with a fall in the Irish Arkle. Provided that fall has not dented his confidence, he has the potential to run a big race and could be under-rated.
Honeysuckle is rated the banker bet of the Cheltenham Festival 2022 by many judges but a new threat emerged at Gowran Park in February. Gordon Elliott’s Teahupoo put up by far the most impressive performance of his career when beating Darasso and Quilixios in the Grade 2 Red Mills Trial. He had been workmanlike in his previous race at Limerick but he stormed clear on this occasion, stretching 11 lengths ahead of his closest pursuer. The offer of 10-1 seems a good each-way price for a horse who acts on any ground and looks certain to be staying on up the hill.
Rebecca Curtis knows how to spring a surprise at Cheltenham, most notably when Lisnagar Oscar won the 2020 Stayers Hurdle at 50-1. She has a lively contender for the National Hunt Chase this year in Pats Fancy, a highly creditable second to the smart Bravemansgame at Newbury last time. He had won his previous two races in great style, beating a subsequent winner in Imperial Alcazar by 11 lengths at Chepstow in December. Curtis has already booked leading Irish Amateur rider Barry O’Neill and the horse looks great value at 18-1.
Sam Thomas indicated that the Coral Cup 2022 was the likely target for Good Risk At All after he bolted up by 9 lengths at Ascot in February. He was racing off a mark of 127 and is likely to be raised 8 or 9lbs, enough to give him a fighting chance of making the cut for the Cheltenham race. Jockey Charlie Deutsch had time to take a long look over his shoulder before pulling away on the run-in so there could be a lot more to come. At 10-1 non-runner – no bet, he looks a horse to follow.
Emmet Mullins is a master at getting his horses fit without having to take them to the racecourse. Winter Fog almost overcame a 244-day absence when runner-up to Panda Boy in a Pertemps Network Qualifier at Leopardstown in December. He had been supported from 22-1 to 8-1 and was leading over the last. He will probably have the choice of the Coral Cup or the Pertemps Final but looks a major player in either contest.
Willie Mullins has a remarkable record in the Cheltenham Bumper with 11 victories. However, it is not always the stable number one who comes out on top. His Facile Vega is even money this year and that price looks too short. We prefer to take a chance on the once-raced James’s Gate at 12-1. The son of St Leger winner Shantou strolled clear to win on his debut at Punchestown by 8 lengths and the owners are keen to take him to Cheltenham.
Some horses are made for Cheltenham and only come to their peak at the Festival meeting each year. One such animal is Sire Du Berlais, twice the winner of the Pertemps Final and runner-up in last year’s Stayers Hurdle. He has been slow to hit form this season but it is worth noting that his price has tumbled for the Pertemps in recent days from 20-1 to around 12-1. He is still in the Stayers Hurdle and looks over-priced at 33-1 but the money suggests a third Pertemps is likely to be his Cheltenham target.
There would be some poetic justice if Porticello were to win the Triumph Hurdle for Gary and Jamie Moore on Gold Cup Day. The memory of Goshen unseating his rider at the last flight in the 2020 Triumph Hurdle must still haunt them and Porticello could easily be in that class. He confirmed his well-being with an easy win in bottomless ground at Haydock and will only run in the Triumph if the going has some give in it. He will be difficult to keep out of the frame at 12-1.
Jessica Harrington has an interesting handicap prospect in Autumn Evening, an eye-catching third at Leopardstown in February. The chestnut was a 28-1 outsider when sweeping to the front that day but could not sustain his effort on the run-in. If ridden with more restraint, he could go close in the County Hurdle (16-1) or Coral Cup (25-1). He is yet to race beyond two miles so the County Hurdle looks the most obvious choice.