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Cheltenham Festival bankers: Will they win?

| 13.03.2022

Who are the Cheltenham Festival bankers for 2022?

The Cheltenham Festival is the equine Olympics, the pinnacle of the racing year, where the very best seek the rewards and adulation that they have been building towards for the whole season.  

Whereas Usain Bolt was expected to win every time he stepped into the starting blocks, the same is true for horse racing and there will some horses heading to Prestbury Park with huge reputations and the banker tag, where anything but a victory is out of the question.  

Here we have scanned the Cheltenham betting to pick out the shortest-priced favourites of the week as we assess the claims of each of our Cheltenham Festival bankers.  

Honeysuckle – Champion Hurdle

Last year’s Champion Hurdle heroine was a Cheltenham Festival banker on day one last year and it is a case of déjà vu for Henry de Bromhead’s superstar mare as she attempts to defend her crown in the opening-day feature.  

She has extended her unbeaten winning run to 14 since storming to Cheltenham Festival success in the hands of Rachael Blackmore last year and it will be a huge shock if she was to suffer defeat in 2022.  

With opposition looking thin on the ground, Honeysuckle could go off the shortest-priced favourite in Champion Hurdle history (currently 8/15 Istabraq in 2000) and currently priced at 1/2 it is easy to see why she is one of Blackmore’s best Cheltenham Festival rides for the week.  

Allaho – Ryanair Chase

Allaho produced a devastating display of jumping and galloping to win this race 12 months ago and the threat of a similar display has scared off most of his rivals in what looks a very weak renewal of the 2022 Ryanair Chase. 

Willie Mullins’ eight-year-old is unbeaten in two starts this term, having followed up his win in the John Durkan at Punchestown by landing a Thurles Grade Two for the second year in a row.  

One of only four odds-on horses for the week at 4/6 with Coral, the opposition appear to be running for place money only in this Thursday feature and Allaho has to be one of our Cheltenham Festival bankers.

Allaho, horse racing, Cheltenham Festival bankers

Shishkin – Champion Chase

The only British-trained runner in our list of Cheltenham Festival bankers can be backed at 4/7 to add his name to the Champion Chase roll of honour and if Shishkin is successful in the Ladies’ Day feature it will be the third successive year he will have stormed up the Cheltenham hill to success at the Festival.  

Nicky Henderson’s star chaser looks tailor made for the challenge as he looks to join the stable’s illustrious list of winners in this race and victory will see Shishkin legitimately talked about in the same breath as the likes of Sprinter Sacre and Altior.  

The eight-year-old, who has won 11 of his 12 racecourse starts, made it 10 victories in a row when getting the better of Energumene in a clash for the ages at Ascot and he looks primed to confirm superiority over that rival to become one of our successful Cheltenham Festival bankers. 

Tiger Roll – Cross Country

A five-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Tiger Roll looks for an unprecedented fourth success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and has Cheltenham odds of 7/4 for the unique day two contest.  

He has already won this contest a record three times and looks to etch his name onto the trophy one last time before waltzing off into retirement.  

The two-time Grand National winner has plenty in his favour and this banks course in the middle of Prestbury Park has long been his playground.

However, he does possess ageing 12-year-old legs and very little in the form book since his win in this race 12 months ago and they are all things to consider when deciding if Tiger Roll is actually worthy of the tag of Cheltenham Festival banker.  

Tiger Roll, Cheltenham Festival bankers

Facile Vega – Champion Bumper

There always seems to be a strongly fancied Irish contender for the Champion Bumper, but only one favourite has won the race in the last five years and that is the statistic Facile Vega will be looking to change as he attempts to oblige at odds of 5/6 in the concluding race of day two.  

However, his trainer has won this race 11 times in the past including in three of the last four years and he couldn’t be in any better hands ahead of his tilt at glory.  

To add further spice to the narrative, Facile Vega’s dam, Quevega, is one of the most successful horses in Cheltenham Festival history and was once herself the go-to Cheltenham Festival banker. 

There will be plenty of pressure on Mullins’ son Patrick Mullins as he attempts to steer this strapping five-year-old to glory, but the horse doesn’t know how highly regarded he is and everything he has shown on track so far suggests he could follow firmly in his mother’s footsteps.

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Adam Morgan