Cheltenham day 1 tips: Honey to taste sweet Champion Hurdle success
The best bets for the Cheltenham Festival Day 1
The Cheltenham Festival is nearly upon us and we have taken a look through the Cheltenham betting and analysed every single race on day one of the Prestbury Park showpiece.
The highlight of the opening day is the Champion Hurdle where Honeysuckle attempts to defend her crown in the hands of Rachael Blackmore, while the action gets under way with two red-hot novice contests over both fences and hurdles.
Here we pick out some Cheltenham day 1 tips for the opening salvos of the Festival, while we will also have an each-way lucky 15 for consideration each day via our Cheltenham tips page.
Following a year without fans, there is sure to be an electric atmosphere when the tapes go up for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival opener and it is easy to make a case for any of those towards the top of the market.
Willie Mullins’ record in this race means Dysart Dynamo and Kilcruit have to be respected, but the added hurdling experience of JONBON (4/1) could give him the edge.
The £570,000 buy, who is a full brother to dual-Cheltenham Festival winner Douvan, has done little wrong by winning all three of his hurdles outings this term and providing he handles the preliminaries, he could prove he has the strongest book of form on offer to come home in front.
Edwardstone heads the market for this as he looks to end Alan King’s long wait for a Cheltenham Festival winner, while Mullins is mobhanded as he looks to win the race for the fifth time in 10 years.
However, it is COUER SUBLIME (12/1) that could be the answer in an open year for Henry de Bromhead, who will be looking to repeat last year’s training heroics.
Second in the Triumph Hurdle in 2019, he has that little bit of back-class that could serve him well in a race devoid of superstars and he arrives on the back of an impressive tune-up at Gowran in January.
The first handicap of the week traditionally goes to the home team and could do so once again in the form of FANTASTIKAS (11/1).
Unexposed novices have a fine record in the race and the seven-year-old appears perfectly placed to take advantage of a mark of 144.
His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies knows how to prepare one for the Cheltenham Festival and it is hard to argue with the form for our Cheltenham day 1 tips selection.
Twice a winner at Lingfield this term, he has twice finished close to the money at Grade Two level, chasing home Threeunderthrufive at Doncaster and finishing third to L’Homme Presse at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
There is only one horse to consider when it comes to selecting Cheltenham day 1 tips for the main event of the opening day and that is the reigning champion HONEYSUCKLE (8/15), who will attempt to be just as impressive as 12 months ago.
We have already looked at the Champion Hurdle in depth, but however you analyse the contest it is hard to pick out any serious heirs to Honeysuckle’s throne.
She is the perfect two-miler, who has enough speed to outgun her rivals, but also a willing attitude and stamina in abundance to get down and dirty if required. She is one of the brightest stars in the sport and as well as being one of Blackmore’s best rides of the week, she is one of the most solid Cheltenham bankers.
Willie Mullins has won this event nine times since its invention in 2008 and has to be respected with whatever he decides to run, but it could be Gordon Elliott who wins the race for the second time with QUEENS BROOK (4/1).
Third in the Champion Bumper behind Ferny Hollow and Appreciate It in 2020, there is a train of thought that we are yet to see the best of her over obstacles and there was plenty to like about her run behind Burning Victory in a Punchestown Grade Three last time.
The form of her win at Fairyhouse before that has been boosted throughout the season by the runner-up and she could be primed to come to the boil on the big occasion.
There is only one horse on everyone’s lips for this race and that is Mullins’ GAELIC WARRIOR (5/2), who could be the best handicapped of the whole Cheltenham Festival.
The French import arrives with a big reputation and has been kept hidden by the Master of Closutton since a fishing expedition earlier in the season revealed that the British handicapper had him rated at a figure of 129.
That could prove extremely lenient based on his French form and he looks to enhance the poor records of favourites in this race, with only one jolly obliging in the past 10 years.
Well supported in the build-up, it would be no surprise if he becomes one of the best backed horses of the whole week and is a must for our Cheltenham day 1 tips.
Gaelic Warrior 👀
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) February 23, 2022
The amateurs get their first taste of the Cheltenham Festival in the final race on day one and the last of our Cheltenham day 1 tips is Elliott’s RUN WILD FRED (5/2), who ticks all the boxes for this 3m6f grueller.
Battle-hardened second-season novices have a fine record in this race and this Irish Grand National runner-up looks to have a touch of class to go with his wealth of experience.
A winner of the Troytown at Navan earlier in the season, he was last seen finishing second in Grade One company and should be cherry-ripe for this assignment for a yard that won the race in 2017 and 2020 and also have a fine record with staying chasers.
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