Cheltenham Festival 2022 tips: Champion Hurdle and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Day 1

Jonbon can get the home team off to a flying start in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Jonbon can get the home team off to a flying start in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival.

Much has been written about the price owner JP McManus paid for the winning pointer, but so far it seems money well spent.

  • Cheltenham Festival 2022 LIVE: Day one tips, odds, schedule, latest updates and results

As a full-brother to Douvan, who won this race in 2015, he was never going to come cheap – but even for a man like McManus, £570,000 is a sizeable sum.

Nevertheless, Jonbon has already proved he has inherited a lot of his brother’s ability and this leggy type will clearly jump a fence in time.

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He has already shown he is right up with the best of his generation in winning two Grade Twos this season and while many were not impressed last time out at Haydock, he needed to quicken twice in desperately heavy ground which many would not have been able to do.

Jonbon appears to have overcome his early tendency to get wound up and run keen, and also in his favour is that has had to knuckle down to win, which must stand him in good stead.

His toughest opponent may be stablemate Constitution Hill, but there is no doubt at this stage Jonbon’s form has more substance.

Next up is the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy, where it has to be said the absence of Ferny Hollow has taken a little sparkle off the race.

Favourite Edwardstone is a very likeable type, but he did have his limitations exposed over hurdles. That is not to say he is not improved enormously for the switch to fences, though.

In any other year a horse such as Willie Mullins’ Haut En Couleurs would be a double-figure price, but such is the paucity of lively contenders this season he is fourth-favourite.

There is certainly plenty to put you off him – he is a five-year-old and none of those have won since Voy Por Ustedes in 2006, while he also fell last time out.

Tuesday’s best bets

CHELTENHAM: 1.30 JONBON (NAP), 2.10 Haut En Couleurs, 2.50 Tea Clipper, 3.30 Honeysuckle, 4.10 Stormy Ireland, 4.50 HMS Seahorse, 5.30 Vanillier.

NEWCASTLE: 5.45 Show Lights, 6.15 War Defender, 6.45 Dutch Decoy, 7.15 Bold Ribb, 7.45 Spartan Fighter, 8.15 Judy’s Park.

SEDGEFIELD: 1.15 Miss Milano, 1.50 Obey The Rules, 2.30 Hajey, 3.10 Blueberry Wine, 3.50 Ellaat, 4.30 Powerful Position, 5.10 Royal Sam.

SOUTHWELL: 5.20 Cashel, 5.55 Odd Socks Havana, 6.30 Fast Forward, 7.00 Equally Fast, 7.30 Protected Guest, 8.00 Patontheback, 8.30 Burrows Seaside.

DOUBLE: Jonbon and Stormy Ireland.

But this is a horse who made his debut for Mullins in last season’s Triumph Hurdle and was only beaten three lengths.

He looked so good first time over fences that he probably found the job too easy heading into the Irish Arkle, where he was an early faller. He remains in the ‘could be anything’ category.

Honeysuckle surely only has to run to something approaching last year’s Unibet Champion Hurdle winning performance to double up.

Henry de Bromhead’s mare might not quite have set the world alight this year, but even so she has not remotely looked like being beaten.

Epatante may get closer this time and Appreciate It adds a bit of extra spice given he has not be seen since winning the Supreme by over 20 lengths 12 months ago.

However, while Mullins is already a magician given some of his training feats, Appreciate It’s form simply does not come near Honeysuckle’s.

The Ultima Handicap Chase is usually won by a class act at the top of the weights or a young and improving chaser.

While Tea Clipper might not look to be improving, he has run in graded races the last twice and probably had little chance of winning.

He made a very pleasing chasing debut in a competitive Listed event at Chepstow, looking like he could be a very useful sort over fences.

He was third in the Coral Cup last season, so he has the vital previous Festival form and might be worth an each-way interest.

Those who believe in the value of Festival form will not be looking beyond Vanillier in the Ukraine Appeal National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase.

Gavin Cromwell’s grey was ultra-impressive in the Albert Bartlett last season and while he has ground to make up on some of his rivals, course experience can count for a lot. He looks just the type for this race.

Stormy Ireland can fare best of the Mullins battalion in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

A move to Paul Nicholls did not work out a couple of years ago, but she has thrived since being based back with Mullins.

Arguably her best piece of form is her most recent when she proved the trip would be no problem in beating McFabulous in the Relkeel Hurdle.

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Many have already announced Gaelic Warrior as the winner of the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, including some of those closest to him, but backing a horse making his debut in Britain or Ireland at skinny odds seems brave.

Instead Paul Nolan’s HMS Seahorse represents better value. The former Aidan O’Brien inmate has progressed with racing and is more battle-hardened than most.

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