Excitement is building fast as we get closer to the 2022 Cheltenham Festival. It is the biggest meeting of the year in National Hunt racing, and a week like no other in the sport.
Irish horses dominated the meeting in 2021 and they could have a lot more success again this year. Here are three horses who could be set to score in their respective assignments.
Sir Gerhard – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (+300)
Last season’s Champion Bumper winner Sir Gerhard has a good chance of returning for more success at Prestbury Park in one of the leading novice hurdle races. Willie Mullins’ runner goes into the meeting with a 100% record over hurdles.
The seven-year-old enhanced his reputation as hurdler with victory in the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown. Since that victory at the Dublin Racing Festival, he has been one of the popular tips for Cheltenham for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, where he is available at +300.
The extra distance in the Ballymore should not be a problem for the Irish horse. He won over 3 miles on his sole start in a point-to-point back in 2019. The 2 mile 5 furlong race is a good option for him as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle looks set to be one of the most competitive contests of the week.
Galopin Des Champs – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (+225)
Mullins is represented in the Festival Novices’ Chase by Galopin Des Champs. This horse was ahead of the handicapper last season when he won the final race of the meeting, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. He then ended the campaign with a Grade One success at the Punchestown Festival.
The six-year-old has improved for a switch to fences. He scored on his chase debut by 22 lengths. He then had no trouble stepping up in class, winning a Grade One novice chase at Leopardstown by nine lengths.
The Irish horse appears to be top of the standings in this novice chase division. He will be challenged by Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor from the UK, but they may have to fight it out for second place.
Royal Kahala – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (+600)
Peter Fahey’s mare Royal Kahala has improved with each appearance this season. Her opening success of the campaign came in a Grade Three contest for mares at Leopardstown back in December.
In her latest outing, she prevailed against her opposite sex in the Grade Two John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park. She will be back against her own sex at the Cheltenham Festival in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. Fahey’s runner is +600 in the betting for that race and looks the best value.
The seven-year-old went off as the +450 favorites for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2021, but she could only finish down the field in that race. She is now a much better horse than the one which traveled across to the meeting last year.
Hopefully, the above three Irish horses can make it a good week for you. Good luck and enjoy the action.