The Cheltenham Gold Cup is not only the feature race of the day, but a standout event in the international horse racing calendar. This Grade 1 National Hunt race features 22 fences, and past winners include legendary chasers Kauto Star, Arkle, and Best Mate.
Read our previews for all seven day four races. Who knows, we might help you pick a winner?
Day Four Races – Gold Cup Day (Friday 18th March)
County Handicap Hurdle
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
Cheltenham Gold Cup
St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase
Liberthine Mares’ Chase
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
The Triumph Hurdle is a race for inexperienced horses who are prone to making a lot of mistakes; fantastic entertainment with plenty of betting opportunities.
Vauban and Pied Piper lead the 2022 Triumph Hurdle betting odds, and resume their rivalry after an epic tussle at Punchestown. Pied Piper won by half a length, but Vauban put in a far stronger finish, suggesting he has the legs for a longer race, such as the Triumph Hurdle.
But if there is ever a race to bet on potential, then it’s the Triumph Hurdle as horses are still in the process of developing. IL Etait Temp finished third in his hurdle debut in a recent Grade 1 at Punchestown; a fantastic result that flew under the radar. The outsider is full of promise, and under Willie Mullins, is likely to have improved further ahead of his tilt at the Triumph Hurdle.
The Cheltenham County Handicap Hurdle runs over a distance of 2m1f, typically at a furious pace. With three victories since 2016, trainer Dan Skelton holds an impressive record in this race, and has kept the much-fancied West Cork fresh. The eight-year-old returned from 21 months of inactivity to land an impressive win in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the season. He’s running off a mark of 141; only 7lb above his mark in the Greatwood Hurdle.
Looking at County Handicap Hurdle trends, novices tend to perform well. With only three starts, Willie Mullins-trained State Man runs off the same appealing mark of 141 as West Cork, and leads the County Handicap Hurdle betting odds. The unexposed five-year-old won last time out at Limerick, and is likely to demonstrate further maturity in the 2022 County Handicap Hurdle.
Echoes in the Rain and Top Bandit are capable of mounting challenges, but their odds represent thin value.
Hillcrest’s dominant Grade 2 victory at Haydock last month saw the Henry Daly-trained horse’s odds slashed. The seven-year-old’s stamina is impressive, and his unlucky unseating at Cheltenham is his only mark on an otherwise perfect hurdling record.
Minella Cocooner jumped with tremendous fluency in testing conditions to record a fantastic win at the Dublin Racing Festival over current Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle betting favourite, Minella Crooner. However, Minella Crooner displayed admirable robustness as he clung on to second place after a miscalculation at the penultimate hurdle.
It’s worth noting that several past winners of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, including last year’s champion Vanillier, defied long betting odds. Stag Horn and Ballygrifincottage stand out as horses who could produce something special given the right conditions.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious race of the festival, and there are several worthy horses looking to carve their name into horse racing history.
Last year’s winner, Minella Indo, is amongst the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting favourites, although the nine-year-old lost out to Conflated at the Irish Gold Cup. Al Boum Photo is one of the few double Cheltenham Gold Cup winners, but the 10-year-oldmust defy his age and become the first winner out of the last 20 to win above the age of nine.
Away from the betting frontrunners, Royale Pagaille ran an impressive race against a strong field at Haydock, which included the highly rated Remastered. Venetia Williams’s charge is a good outside bet if the ground becomes soft. Willie Mullins-trained Tornado Flyer upset the betting odds and won the King George VI Chase; only elite horses claim victory in this race.
Galvin displays improvement with every outing, and is in fine condition ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2022. The eight-year-old defeated the much-fancied A Plus Tard at Leopardstown last December, and always displays incredible form at Cheltenham. He’s still a good bet despite the short odds.
Billaway leads the 2022 St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase betting odds. Willie Mullins’ charge finished runner-up in this race in the previous two years, and is poised to go one better. Billaway is in fine form after an impressive victory at Naas last month, but will be wary of main challenger, Winged Leader, who outran the 10-year-old at the Thurles Hunter Chase.
Pont Aven charged home to a comprehensive 16-length win at Ludlow, which saw his odds slashed. Jett displayed his stamina with a solid performance in last year’s Grand National, but lost out to Shantou Flyer at Fontwell last month. Also, Cousin Pascal , who won the Hunter’s Chase in Aintree last April, is another horse with the pedigree to upset the St James’s Place Festival Hunters’ Chase betting odds.
As it’s only in its second year, there are no Liberthine Mares’ Chase trends to guide us. Last year’s winner, Colreevy, has since proven herself as an elite horse, going on to beat highly rated mares such as Envoi Allen. This puts into perspective the ability of last year’s runner-up, Elimay, who goes again in the 2022 Liberthine Mares’ Chase. The Willie Mullins-trained mare travelled very well in a recent victory at Naas and deserves to be amongst the betting favourites.
Mount Ida is an experienced chaser who looks set to challenge, whereas Concertista is an inexperienced chaser, who only made her debut in December, but recorded wins at Cork and Limerick. Further down the Liberthine Mares’ Chase betting odds, Vienna Court’s last outing at Huntingdon was unconvincing, but she brings fantastic course form, with two chase wins at Cheltenham. The seven-year-old represents good value at long odds.
The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle is your last chance to pick a 2022 Cheltenham Festival winner.
Langer Dan finished second behind the mercurial Galopin Des Champs won last year, and the 2021 Imperial Cup winner is a decent bet to go one better this year. State Man leads the betting odds, and has a similar profile to Galopin Des Champs. His recent victory at Limerick provides the five-year-old with some valuable momentum going into the race.
Winter Fog ran well at Leopardstown after a lengthy break, Chemical Energy won last time out at Fairyhouse, and Grand Jury has Grade 1 form; finishing second to Ginto at the Naas Novice Hurdle. All of these horses may challenge for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, but with the betting odds tight, Langer Dan’s course experience might prove the difference.