Cheltenham Festival 2022: Day 1 Spot Plays

March 14th, 2022

The highlight of the British jumps racing year is upon us! The Cheltenham Festival begins on Tuesday at the picturesque Prestbury Park course on the outskirts of Cheltenham, a spa town about 88 miles west of London.

The biggest betting week in British racing includes 28 races over four days.

Fourteen of the races are jumping Grade 1 races. It's not unreasonable to describe it as the Breeders' Cup of British and Irish jumps racing. We include Ireland as its best horses - and fans - always make a big impact. Indeed, you may struggle to hear anything but Irish accents if you walk around the streets of Cheltenham this week.

TwinSpires has a Bet-Back offer at Cheltenham this week. If you opt in, you are eligible for your bet back with second and third finishers for all races, all week. We hope to help persuade you to be part of the fun. With that in mind, let’s have a look at the cards!


Race 1: Supreme Novices Hurdle (G1), 2 1/16 miles, novice hurdlers

A field of nine faces the starter in the traditional Cheltenham opener, in which numerous future candidates for the Champion Hurdle are targeted in their novice season.

The race looks to be a battle between Irish trainer Willie Mullins, who starts #3 Dysart Dynamo, #6 Kilcruit, and #1 Bring on the Night, and England’s Nicky Henderson, who saddles #2 Constitution Hill and #4 Jonbon. It shapes up as an intriguing race, with Dysart Dynamo likely to press on at a strong pace and Constitution Hill waited upon to see if he can deliver his devastating turn of foot. The other Mullins and Henderson runners, along with Gordon Elliott’s Mighty Potter, also have prospects but the top two look the ones to beat.

Hurdle races at Cheltenham are often settled with a strong turn of foot, so I’m going with Constitution Hill.

  • $10 win: #2 Constitution Hill
  • $20 show: #2 Constitution Hill
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 3 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 6

Race 2: Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices Chase (G1), two miles, novice steeplechasers

A fantastic race which throws up future candidates for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This was one of the few races Britain won at last year’s festival, when Shiskin triumphed, and they look set to go close again with #4 Edwardstone, who has won all his chases bar his first, when he was brought down. #1 Blue Lord and #11 Riviere D’etel have been the best of the Irish but they haven’t looked as sharp as Edwardstone.

  • $20 win: #4 Edwardstone
  • $5 exacta: key 4 with 1, 3, 6, 11

Race 3: Ultima Handicap Chase (G3), 3 1/8 miles, open steeplechasers

A lot of interest has been added with the popular frontrunner Frodon, who loves Cheltenham but has found the extra 1 1/2 furlongs of the Gold Cup a fraction too far. His form isn’t great but he can bounce back at reasonable odds. However, he has a lot of weight to give away and the better bet looks to be #3 Does He Know, who is in great form and loves Cheltenham.

  • $10 win: #3 Does He Know
  • $30 show: #3 Does He Know

Race 4: Champion Hurdle (G1), 2 1/16 miles, open hurdlers

The highlight of day one and the race with the shortest-priced favorite. Last year’s winner #10 Honeysuckle will be an odds-on favorite, not surprising as she’s unbeaten in 14 hurdle races. It says something about her dominance that the closest horse to her in the market is one that hasn’t raced for a year: #2 Appreciate It, last year’s Supreme Novice Hurdle winner. It’s probably best to look for exotics in this race, including horses like #6 Teahupoo and #9 Epatante, but it may also be worth a show bet on #7 Tommy’s Oscar, who may be overpriced.

  • $10 show: #7 Tommy’s Oscar
  • $1 trifecta: 10 with 2, 6, 7, 9 with all

Race 5: Mares’ Hurdle (G1), 2 1/2 miles, hurdlers, mares

Connections of the runners here will be glad Honeysuckle and Epatante are taking on the males in the Champion Hurdle. It looks like being dominated in betting terms by the Irish, with none of the British runners under 10-1 locally. Last year’s Mares’ Novices Hurdle winner #11 Telmesomethinggirl will probably be favorite to give Honeysuckle’s connections of jockey Rachael Blackmore and trainer Henry de Bromhead a second success, but the best value looks to be #2 Echoes In Rain, who did very well when third to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

  • $10 win: #2 Echoes In Rain
  • $30 show: #2 Echoes In Rain

Race 6: Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (G3), four-year-old hurdlers

The best form at the weights looks to be from #2 The Tide Turns, but the market at present is headed by ex-French runner #8 Gaelic Warrior, a horse that hasn’t started yet for new trainer Willie Mullins. Given the money on him it’s hard to confidently tip another, but it’s worth taking some show money on #10 HMS Seahorse, whose form with The Tide Turns looks good at the weights.

  • $20 show: #10 HMS Seahorse

Race 7: Ukraine Appeal National Hunt Challenge Cup (G2), 3 3/4 miles, novice chasers, amateur riders

The small field doesn’t have many horses proven over distances further than three miles. One that does have some form over ground, however, is #5 Run Wild Fred, who was second in the Irish Grand National at 3 5/8 miles last year. He’s still in good form and though likely to be favorite, is worth backing.

  • $20 win: #5 Run Wild Fred