Five British-trained horses to challenge the Irish in 2022
Last year British trained runners managed only five victories at the Cheltenham Festival. The omens are not great this year for the home team with a powerful Irish raiding party lined up. The Irish currently have the ante-post favourite in 21 of the 28 festival races. We’ve looked beyond the more obvious prospects such as Shishkin, Edwardstone and Constitution Hill to pick out five each-way bets that could put one on the board for Britain.
Saint Segal (Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle)
The Boodles has thrown up plenty of surprise results over the years, none more so than last year when Jeff Kidder won at 80-1! According to the current prices, Gaelic Storm is “thrown in” on a mark of 129 and will win for Willie Mullins. Things are rarely that simple at the Cheltenham Festival and it might be worth taking a chance with Saint Segal, trained by Jane Williams. He was second in the Grade 1 Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle before winning easily at Warwick and could go well at around 12-1.
Gowel Road (Coral Cup)
If Britain are to fight back this year in the Prestbury Cup they will need to perform a lot better in the handicap races. One horse who will be doing his utmost is Gowel Road in the Coral Cup, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. He kept Unexpected Party at bay over course and distance in November and is set to meet that rival on better terms next week. There was much to admire about his run behind Metier in heavy ground at Lingfield last time out and 16-1 makes plenty of each-way appeal.
Camprond (Coral Cup or Martin Pipe Hurdle)
Camprond is another with excellent prospects in the Coral Cup, although he is by no means certain to get in from number 45 in the weights. Alternatively, he only needs five to come out to get a run in the Martin Pipe and he would have excellent prospects there. He remains well treated, despite finishing fourth to West Cork in a high quality renewal of the Greatwood Hurdle in November. Prior to that he had won over two and a half miles at Cheltenham. He is 14-1 for the Coral Cup and 22-1 for the Martin Pipe (NRNB).
Porticello (Triumph Hurdle)
Gary Moore was initially reluctant to commit Porticello to the Triumph Hurdle but now seems to be warming to the idea. His latest bulletin suggested that the horse will run, providing the going is good to soft or softer. Porticello looked unlucky not to have beaten Knight Salute at Doncaster in December and was most impressive at Chepstow and Haydock. The form of Pied Piper’s Cheltenham win has fallen apart a bit so the Irish may not be quite as fearsome as first thought. Porticello looks a good bet at around 10-1 from a stable in top form.
Stag Horn (Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle)
Trainer Archie Watson is better known for his exploits on the flat but he has a very good hurdler on his hands in Stag Horn. The five-year-old was no mug on the flat, finishing fourth to Stradivarius in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot last year and filling the same spot in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal meeting. He won a Grade 2 at Warwick last time out and looks tailor-made for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. He is currently a 16-1 chance for a race which looks wide open this year.