The Cheltenham Champion Hurdle 2022 has proved to be one hell of a rollercoaster ride for punters in recent weeks. But it does appear now that there is a settled market with some fairly definite participants being priced up.
Honeysuckle has been the odds on favourite for weeks so much so that Paddy Power are offering a market without the legendary mare. The unbeaten star has notched up 14 back-to-back wins, leaving all rivals in her dust.
Can she continue at Cheltenham? Or is there a new challenger on the horizon?
Here is a runner-by-runner look at the market principles as well some of the other lively outsiders for the 2022 Champion Hurdle.
Honeysuckle – 8/15
What can be said about Honeysuckle that hasn’t been said before? Not much, is the answer.
Owned by Kenneth Alexander, the 8-year-old mare is trained by Henry De Bromhead. Completely unbeaten from her very first point-to-point in April 2018 through to her latest run in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, she has gone off as the race favourite in 13 of her 14 starts over hurdles.
And the Champion Hurdle 2022 is no different. Partnered with Rachael Blackmore for every win, the duo are a formidable force as reflected in the odds. They won this race in 2021 but if they don’t manage to repeat the feat, it will cause a major upset.
Appreciate It – 7/2
Right now it looks like Appreciate It may be the only runner who could genuinely challenge Honeysuckle. The Willie Mullins trained 8-year-old may not have the experience of Honeysuckle, with only four starts over hurdles, but even then he has won four from four.
That includes the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham last year but there is a big question mark. Appreciate It hasn’t been seen since that win in the Supreme Novices after suffering a setback earlier in the season.
That doesn’t seem to worry Willie Mullins or Paul Townsend who will be on board on the day.
Townsend said: “He is the horse with all the potential. We don’t know how good Honeysuckle is but I’m looking forward to having a go at her with something on a level that Appreciate It shows.”
Teahupoo – 8/1
With all eyes on the potential showdown between Honeysuckle and Appreciate It, few are looking beyond the two leaders in the betting market.
But is there an upset looking in the wings and could it come from Teahupoo? Trained by Gordon Elliott, Teahupoo is one of the youngest horses in this race at just 5-years-old.
Despite his young years he is showing huge potential as a serious hurdler and from seven starts has won six of them. It should be noted however, that those wins came at Grade 2 and Grade 3 level and this will be his first run at Grade 1 level.
Epatante – 10/1
Owned by JP McManus and trained by Nicky Henderson, Epatante won this race in 2020 but had to settle for third place in 2021.
However, he has started this season with a bang winning two Grade 1 races at Newcastle and Kempton, following the same prep route as last season.
Can he regain his Champion Hurdle crown? He has been beaten by Honeysuckle twice, so can Henderson figure out a master plan to finally beat her?
Zanahiyr – 16/1
Went off as the race favourite in the Triumph Hurdle last year but finished a disappointing fourth. Will he have better luck in the Champion Hurdle?
At just 5-years-old, it’s clear that Gordon Elliott is not afraid to race his younger stable stars in the big races. Unlike Teahupoo however, Zanahiyr has at least raced in three Grade 1 races.
He hasn’t actually won any of them, being beaten each time by either Sharjah or Honeysuckle, but with no Sharjah, an untested Appreciate It and an inexperienced Teahupoo, Zanahiyr could actually be in with a decent each-way shout in this race.
Adagio – 16/1
Finished second in the Triumph Hurdle last year and has continued to finish second since then.
So close yet so far each time, Adagio, trained by David Pipe, is just missing that last reserve of energy to get to the finish line first.
If Pipe has worked his magic, Adagio could put up a fight but I suspect that some of the competition may need to underperform for him to be in with a chance.
Tommys Oscar – 33/1
At odds of 33/1 you could be forgiven for thinking that Tommy’s Oscar doesn’t have a chance in the 2022 Champion Hurdle.
However, this is Cheltenham and anything can happen. This season has gone very well for trainer Ann Hamilton who has saddled Tommy’s Oscar six times, winning four of them.
The races may be a little further down the classes and grades of other runners in the field but each time he has stepped up he has done connections proud.
Saint Roi – 33/1
This is definitely a shot in the dark for the JP McManus owned runner. From 10 hurdle starts the 7-year-old has won just three and placed in three more.
Compared to Honeysuckle’s unbeaten streak of 14 wins, it’s hard to see how Saint Roi could realistically challenge in this field.
Glory And Fortune – 80/1
At 80/1 bookmakers have clearly given up all hope that Glory And Fortune can make a splash in the 2022 Champion Hurdle.
To be fair, his last couple of races have demonstrated a glimmer of hope, especially when so narrowly beaten by Epatante in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton in December.
He then went on to win the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury so he’s no slouch. The only question is whether he can go out and run the race of his life for trainer Tom Lacey.
Not So Sleepy – 100/1
Last but not least and holding up the rear on serious outsider odds of 100/1 is Not So Sleepy from trainer Hughie Morrison.
What a career this horse has had. With 55 runs under his belt, including 37 on the flat turf, his hurdle record is very hit or miss.
Thirteen starts have resulted in five wins and that’s it. No places or narrow defeats. So it’s all or nothing with Not So Sleepy, let’s just hope he’s awake enough the day to put in a good run.