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2022 Cheltenham Festival: what chance of a repeat win for last year's scorers?

Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore win the Champion HurdleCheltenham 16.3.21 Pic: Edward Whitaker/Racing post
Honeysuckle: will bid for another Champion Hurdle victoryCredit: Edward Whitaker

With the Cheltenham Festival fast approaching, we look back at seven of last year's winners, analysing their chances of a repeat success.

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (3.30 Cheltenham, March 15)

2021 winner: Honeysuckle

What happened: Sent off as the 11-10 favourite, Honeysuckle crowned herself queen of the hurdling division with a dominant success, cruising into contention under Rachael Blackmore before unleashing a devastating turn of foot to saunter clear by six and a half lengths.

Repeat chance: For many, Honeysuckle is the banker of the meeting and for good reason. She brought her unbeaten record to 14 with two runaway victories this season and with her main rival Appreciate It yet to be seen since last year's Supreme, Honeysuckle's chances look rock-solid.
Star rating ***** (market odds: 4-6)

Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30 Cheltenham, March 16)

2021 winner: Put The Kettle On

What happened: The Henry de Bromhead-trained mare came into last year's festival with a blemish-free record at Cheltenham and gamely fended off Nube Negra and Chacun Pour Soi to claim the Champion Chase, building from her festival triumph in the Arkle a year prior.

Put The Kettle On: a 20-1 chance to defend her Champion Chase crown
Put The Kettle On fends off Nube Negra (left) and Chacun Pour Soi last yearCredit: Tim Goode (Getty Images)

Repeat chance: It is rare to see a previous winner of the Champion Chase winner at 20-1 in the market but Put The Kettle On's price reflects the standard set by Shishkin and Energumene this term. The two-mile chasing division is far stronger this year and considering the eight-year-old mare failed to threaten in two starts this season, she would not be an obvious candidate to follow up.

Star rating ** (market odds: 20-1)

2021 winner: Tiger Roll

What happened: Tiger Roll claimed his fifth Cheltenham Festival success in bloodless fashion, sauntering clear from three out without a threat from 2020 winner Easysland. Crossing the line 18 lengths clear, Tiger Roll became the first horse to win the cross country chase on three occasions.

Repeat chance: This race brings the best out of Tiger Roll, who seems to find an extra gear in the spring. On paper, this renewal is no tougher than twelve months ago and he arrives fresh, having last run in January. He has not been campaigned harshly and victory would be a fitting send off for a horse who has given racing his all.
Star rating ***** (market odds 9-4)

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (4.50 Cheltenham, March 16)

2021 winner: Sky Pirate

What happened: In one of the finishes of the 2021 festival, Sky Pirate outbattled Entoucas for a short-head victory in the Grade 3 contest, marking his third win from four starts since dropping back to two miles.

Sky Pirate gets the better of Entoucas in the 2021 Grand Annual
Sky Pirate gets the better of Entoucas in the 2021 Grand AnnualCredit: Edward Whitaker

Repeat chance: The nine-year-old will arrive off a 4lb higher rating, which will not play in his favour when he faces unexposed opposition. His well-held second to Brave Seasca at Warwick in January does not bode well for his festival chances, but he will be suited by the likely strong pace and has solid each-way claims.

Star rating *** (market odds 14-1)

Ryanair Chase (2.50 Cheltenham, March 17)

2021 winner: Allaho

What happened: Allaho produced a scintillating performance under Rachael Blackmore, jumping immaculately and setting a relentless pace to run his rivals off their feet. Unchallenged throughout the journey, he came home an impressive 12-length winner over a smart field.

Repeat chance: Another who looks like a possible banker this Cheltenham Festival, Allaho has looked imperious this season and produced an enormous RPR of 178 when landing a Grade 2 at Thurles in January. He comes into the race better than ever and finding alternatives to him is a tough task.

Star rating ***** (market odds 8-11)

Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (3.30 Cheltenham, March 17)

2021 winner: Flooring Porter

What happened: Progressing through the ranks rapidly last season, Flooring Porter started his campaign rated 131 and capped it off by making all the running at Grade 1 level under Danny Mullins, who made the most of Flooring Porter's high cruising speed and slick jumping.

Repeat chance: The Stayers' Hurdle market has flip-flopped throughout the season, with key contenders such as Champ and Klassical Dream disappointing at various stages. Flooring Porter fell on his seasonal debut when travelling well and was disadvantaged at the start behind Klassical Dream at Christmas. Running at a similar level to last season, a bold bid from Flooring Porter to defend his crown looks likely.
Star rating **** (market odds 7-2)

Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (3.30 Cheltenham, March 18)

2021 winner: Minella Indo

What happened: Narrowly denied by Champ twelve in the RSA months prior, Minella Indo was the lesser-fancied of the Henry De Bromhead-trained pair but gamely fended off the challenge from A Plus Tard, with his better jumping proving the deciding factor to success.

Jack Kennedy guides Minella Indo to a famous Gold Cup 1-2 for Henry de Bromhead from stablemate A Plus Tard
Minella Indo: will hope to get the better of stablemate A Plus Tard once more in MarchCredit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Repeat chance: It's been a disappointing season for Minella Indo, who was beaten by Frodon on his return and was subsequently pulled up in the King George before finishing second behind Conflated in the Irish Gold Cup. However, Cheltenham clearly plays to his strengths and he is likely to produce his best performance this season in the festival showpiece.

Star rating **** (market odds 5-1)

Read more . . .

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Sam Waley-Cohen sweet on his chances of more Cheltenham Festival success

The Cheltenham Ultimate Guide is everything the smart punter needs for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival. With big-race previews, tips, trends and much, much more, the Cheltenham Ultimate Guide has it all. Order now.

Owen GouldingDigital journalist

Published on 7 March 2022inNews

Last updated 14:30, 6 March 2022