The three biggest talking points from the Cheltenham Festival

After last year’s Festival was held behind closed doors, fans packed into the concourses for the 2022 renewal of Cheltenham – and the four-day meeting didn’t disappoint. Of course, now all eyes turn to Aintree and the Grand National next month, but while punters peruse the latest odds to bet on horse racing, let’s recap some of the best bits of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.

Willie Mullins: history maker

The Irish trainer landed the Leading Trainer accolade for the ninth time – extending his record as the King of Prestbury Park. But not content with the setting the record of eight winners he landed in 2015, Mullins broke his own record – and reached double figures, winning 10 races at the Festival. Of the 10, among the most memorable was a first ever victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

After just one win on day one – in the Amateur Jockey’s Novices’ Chase – he followed up with three victories on day two, before landing the Festival Trophy on the third day, and securing four wins from seven races on the final day of the Festival.

Not only that, but Mullins now boasts 88 Cheltenham winners – reaching ever-closer to that epic century!

Honeysuckle: sweet taste of success

Honeysuckle and jockey Rachael Blackmore retained their Champion Hurdle crown, winning the Grade 1 race for the second year running. It’s now 15 wins from as many starts for the mare, with Blackmore – who was unable to end the Festival as this year’s Top Jockey, with three wins – in the saddle. Honeysuckle becomes the first mare to win multiple Champion Hurdle titles – and it never looked like being in any doubt.

It was certainly a different kind of atmosphere as the duo pounded up the home straight to how things were 12 months ago – the crowd erupting as they drove home, past the finish and all the way through to the winners’ enclosure. After the race, Blackmore commented on the crowds:

“The reception we got the whole way down, this is such a special place and we missed the crowds last year. To have them back this year is just unbelievable.”

Tiger Roll: no fairytale farewell

Whatever your stance on the situation, for the second year running, owner Michael O’Leary has stood his ground on the Grand National weights handicap row. With the news that the Cheltenham Festival would be the dual-National winner’s final appearance, it would have been fitting that he landed a historic and record sixth win at Prestbury Park.

Stablemate, Delta Work, clearly didn’t get the memo. For the first time since 1998, boos rung around the concourse for the winner. Such is the admiration for Tiger Roll, who is so often referred to as “The people’s horse”. It was a fantastic race, with Tiger Roll marginally ahead as they both reached the final fence – however, Delta Work made lightwork of the run-in, winning by three-quarters of a length.

On reflection, defeat was likely. Torrential downpours on the day had cut up the turf, rendering the conditions for the horse, so well-known for his preference for good ground. And despite the conditions, it looked as though an upset could be on the cards – but it wasn’t to be.

Related Articles

Back to top button