Cheltenham Festival 2022: Champion Hurdle day – live! | Sport








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09:36

Constitution Hill wins the Supreme Novices Hurdle!

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09:01

2.10 Arkle Trophy preview

Another live chance for the home team in a Grade One – the last one for some time, quite possibly – as Edwardstone attempts to shift his dominance of the two-mile novice chasers on this side of the Irish Sea up a gear by beating the best from the other side too. He has been impressively consistent this season, running to almost exactly the same, very high, rating for each of his last three wins, a Grade One and a pair of Grade Twos. He is trading at around 11-4 to give Alan King his first Festival winner since Uxizandre took the Champion Chase in 2015, with Riviere D’Etel and Blue Lord, runner-up and winner respectively in the Irish version of this race at Leopardstown in February, next in the list at 4-1 and 5-1. Blue Lord looked like a slightly fortunate winner last time, as Riviere D’Etel made a bad mistake at the last and still went down by just half a length having rallied all the way up the run-in. As a mare, she gets a very useful 7lb from Blue Lord and Edwardstone too. All three are strong contenders, but I’m taking a chance here on Haut En Couleurs, a stable companion of Blue Lord at the Willie Mullins yard. He lacks the experience of the principals, having only one completed start in the book, but that was in a strong beginners’ chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting and he beat Gentlemen De Mee, an impressive winner of his next two starts by an aggregate of 40 lengths, with some ease. He did not get any further than the third behind Blue Lord and Riviere D’Etel last time, but was prominent in the betting beforehand and could be worth chancing each-way at around 8-1.








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07:37

1.30 Supreme Novice Hurdle Preview

A small(ish) but select field for the opening race of the meeting will be sent on their way by the traditional roar from the heaving grandstands. About a dozen of us tried our best to match it last year, by the way, but it just wasn’t the same. Anyway, the 2022 renewal has all the strands you would hope for in the opening race, including an early chance for the Brits to get a winner on the board, as Constitution Hill, from the Nicky Henderson yard, is one of no more than three home-trained horses that could start favourite for a Grade One race this week. It is “could” rather than will, as Dysart Dynamo has replaced him as the narrow favourite this morning, though it is still very tight – 9-4 versus 5-2 – and either or both could head the market at 1.30pm. Jonbon, a stable companion of Constitution Hill, is also in with a big shout – all three horses are unbeaten so far – while Mighty Potter (Gordon Elliott) and Mullins’s second-string Kilcruit, runner-up when odds-on for the Bumper here last year, are also priced up at single-figure odds. For me, it came down to a straight choice between Constitution Hill and Dysart Dynamo, and the latter made slightly more appeal as a) the Irish Grade Two form could be on a slightly higher level than Constitution Hill’s Grade One win on heavy ground in January, and b) the time of Dysart Dynamo’s wide-margin success last time lends a little weight to that theory. It’s a fascinating contest though, and victory for any of the top five in the market could not be classed as a surprise.

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Good morning from Cheltenham

The gates were flung open at 10.30am and one lucky individual became the first paying punter to set foot on the hallowed tarmac leading to the bar since the last one left in 2020.

Around 69,000 more are expected to follow him or her through the door today, and what an afternoon awaits them in the natural amphitheatre of Cheltenham racecourse, a venue which gathers up the noise and sends it swirling around and inside your head like nowhere else.

Greg Wood
(@Greg_Wood_)

Eager punters at the front of the queue to get back into #cheltenham. The gates open in 5 mins. pic.twitter.com/02Lb6cmb7g


March 15, 2022

The official attendance on each of the four days 12 months ago was around 41, and without wishing to sound in any way ungrateful, watching it from your sofa was very much the way to go. The Festival is not the Festival without the atmosphere, and it felt as though historic achievements – like Rachael Blackmore lifting the prize for the meeting’s top jockey for the first time – effectively went unacknowledged. The race, you realised, is only a part of the experience. The reception afterwards is what makes it complete.

I can still remember the bedlam as Like-A-Butterfly and Charlie Swan came up the hill in the Supreme Novice Hurdle 20 years ago almost to the day, in the first Festival race after the 2001 meeting was lost to foot-and-mouth. The pent-up energy and frustration of 24 months away exploded from the stands, and we can expect something similar shortly after 1.30 today, not least if Dysart Dynamo and Constitution Hill, the big hopes for Ireland and Britain respectively, jump the last together.

Greg Wood
(@Greg_Wood_)

There was a mad dash to bagsy the best seats in the bars when the doors opened at 10.30 at #Cheltenham. By my reckoning Mike Hesketh and William Mort were first to get their hands on a Guinness, but they’re here to work in the betting ring so they possibly had a head start. pic.twitter.com/y0VtoEXepX


March 15, 2022

Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore will also get the huge ovation they deserved 12 months ago if they can repeat their success in the Champion Hurdle. The British runners’ attempt to keep at least within shouting distance of their Irish counterparts will be another theme of the day, as Alan King’s Edwardstone goes to post as favourite for the Arkle Trophy (2.10) against a host of Irish challengers, while the two handicaps on the card, at 2.50 and 4.50, both have full fields and offer the kind of challenge that few punters can resist.

The first race – and the traditional roar to send them on their way – is at 1.30, picks for all seven races are here and all the news, results and gossip will be here on the live blog as soon as it drops. Happy Festival!

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