Four Outsiders to Watch at The 2022 Cheltenham Festival
The 2022 Cheltenham Festival features no less than 28 races and therefore many chances for surprise winners at big prices. We all know that person who likes a speculative Lucky 15 before the Festival begins that pays out at eye-watering odds, and our racing expert Joe Eccles has had his go at landing a biggie with a massive 211,685/1 Lucky 15 that features four outsiders that he fancies outrunning their odds next week.
Kiltealy Briggs – Ultima Handicap Chase 16/1
The first handicap run at the Cheltenham Festival is the Ultima Handicap Chase, a race sponsored by Max McNeill – whose famous blue, white and maroon silks have been seen carried to victory on horses such as Escaria Ten, Tritonic and Walkon down the years.
The fact that McNeill sponsors the race makes it all the more likely that this has been a long-term plan for the owner’s KILTEALY BRIGGS.
Relation to the 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs, Kiltealy Briggs has come good over fences this season, producing form figures of 42131. That penultimate third came in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, where Kiltealy Briggs wasn’t completely disgraced behind Bravemansgame and Ahoy Senor, both subsequent winners and well fancied for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
Kiltealy Briggs appreciated the drop in class when going in at Musselburgh last time. That run strongly suggested that going back up to 3m would suit Kiltealy Briggs and a mark of 141 looks within his capabilities so at 16/1 he rates a solid proposition.
Call Me Lord – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle 20/1
Nicky Henderson has proven the go-to trainer in the Coral Cup recently, landing both the 2019 and 2020 renewals whilst also sending out last year’s runner-up Craigneiche.
He has a number of entries in 2022, but the one that catches the eye is CALL ME LORD.
Now a 9yo, Isaac Souede and Simon Munir’s charge is no longer at his 160-rated peak, but a mark of 142 reflects that and Call Me Lord has recently been shaping as though he is not far off a winning level.
A third in the competitive Lanzarote Hurdle caught the eye earlier this year, and it’s worth noting that it’s often around this time of year that the former Imperial Cup winner brings his A-game.
Call Me Lord’s last victory came in the International Hurdle here at Cheltenham, and he has only been seen at the track once since when posting an RPR of 151. The odds available look a little too big to ignore.
Fanion D’Estruval – Ryanair Chase 25/1
Allaho took last year’s Ryanair Chase and will be a warm order to supplement that in 2022, but if there is a horse in this line-up that looks capable of outrunning his odds, then it is FANION D’ESTRUVAL.
Venetia Williams sent out the shock 33/1 runner-up Aso in this race in 2019, and Fanion D’Estruval comes into this with a similar profile – having improved out of handicaps to contest Graded contests.
Still just a 7yo, Fanion D’Estruval caught the eye finishing a staying-on third in the Ascot Chase last month. The stiffer test that Cheltenham provides looks certain to suit Fanion D’Estruval on that evidence, whilst this looks as though it could turn into a burn up on the front end, so if Fanion D’Estruval is ridden cold by jockey Charlie Deutsch he could pick off many a toiling rival late on.
The 25/1 available looks more than respectable in a race in which the majority of Allaho’s main market rivals are expected to bypass this in favour of other targets.
Knappers Hill – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 16/1
The Festival’s concluding Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle often produces a smart winner, and a runner in this year’s line-up that looks like a potentially useful horse for the future is KNAPPERS HILL.
Paul Nicholls’ charge runs in the familiar Frodon silks and was a Grade 2 bumper winner last season, where he defeated stablemate and future Grade 1 winner Stage Star.
Knappers Hill made light work of two weak novice hurdles earlier this season before running creditably in defeat at Ascot behind Jonbon, where he may well have finished second but for a bad mistake two-out.
Knappers Hill has been seen just once since that run, finishing sixth in the ultra-competitive Betfair Hurdle, and that can be upgraded as it came at a time when the yard’s horses weren’t in top form. Knappers Hill runs off the same mark of 135 here and has been shaping as though he would benefit from the step up to 2m4f, whilst it is also fascinating that Knappers Hill is the sole entry for Nicholls, who has taken this race twice in the past nine years.