Cheltenham Festival 2022 – Day 1 Non-Handicap Races Tips and Betting Preview

As well as the Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival there are some wonderful other feature races on what is officially the undercard but which could easily be the main show themselves.

There are four non-handicaps away from the Champion Hurdle including the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the Arkle Chase. We’ve gone through the card and picked out bets in two of those races starting with the opener.

13.30 Cheltenham: Supreme Novice Hurdle


The opener for what promises to be a fantastic week of racing sees a small field of 9 for the Supreme with Nicky Henderson seemingly holding the cards with 2 of the front 3 in the market.  According to the market, this is a 5 horse race with the front 5 trading at 8/1 or less, the next going off at 25/1.   The usual GB/Ireland debate roars on with those on the UK side of the pond suggesting Constitution Hill cannot be beaten.  He’s been impressive in 2 wins at Sandown including the Grade 1 Tolworth and he’s most certainly a top prospect but I’m not certain Cheltenham will suit so am happy to oppose.  The number 1 Irish challenger is Dysart Dynamo & similarly he’s won his 2 hurdle starts in fine style, yet to be extended.   Of the 2, he would be my preference but odds of 5/2 in an open race aren’t for me.  Kilcruit cannot be ignored on the basis of what he achieved in bumpers whilst Mighty Potter is Gordon Elliot’s only representative & won his last start over Christmas in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown.  The worry for him is that his jumping needs to improve.   At long odds, Bring On The Night could be absolutely anything so might be worth a few quid each way.


However, after drifting to a ridiculous price, it’s Jonbon for me.  It’s hard not to have an opinion on him after this brother of Douvan was purchased for £570K & whilst he may not have been as easy on the eye as some of the others in the field, he’s the one I think will be most suited by the demands of Cheltenham.  His hurdling to date has been good & his form is equally good too, having won all 3 starts over hurdles.  Most recently, he landed a pair of Grade 2’s & whilst never really in doubt, he didn’t have it all his way & has had to quicken up to put both races to bed.  Last time out was a bit of a slog on heavy ground but he gave weight to his rivals yet still quickened from the last in the manner of a top class horse.  The form of that has been given a serious boost since, as the 4th horse home won a Grade 2 up at Kelso just over a week ago.  Despite the small field, they are likely to go a good pace & the selection looks like he’ll relish the infamous Cheltenham hill & might just outstay his rivals.


Back Jonbon (e/w) for a 2/10 stake at 6.50 Paddy Power BOG (⅕ odds 1-3)


14.10 Cheltenham: Arkle Novice Chase

An Arkle that, this year, seems to lack a top class Shiskin-type but intriguing nonetheless.   Edwardstone is the clear pick of the Brits for Alan King whilst the Irish have a strong hand with Blue Lord & Riviere D’Etel the 2 most fancied.  There may be some value further down the field but quite honestly it’s not easy to know which one of the outsiders will hit the frame.   Riviere D’Etel would be the most likely winner for me but it’s not a race I can recommend a bet in.

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16.10 Cheltenham: Mares Hurdle


A 12 strong field for the Mares Hurdle & the Irish are responsible for 7 of the first 8 in the market.  Quite frankly, I can’t see anything other than an Irish 1-2-3 in this & that’s where I’ll focus my thoughts.  Mullins runs 3 with Stormy Ireland the mount of Paul Townend, the other 2 being Burning Victory & Echoes In Rain.   The first named was 2nd here in 2019 & won at the track on New Years Day so has definite claims at a course she likes whilst Burning Victory comes here off the back of a win over current favourite for this, Queens Brook but may struggle to follow up on worse terms.  Echoes In Rain was 3rd in the Irish Champion Hurdle & I don’t think she’ll stay this trip.  Telmesomethinggirl won this last year but this is a tough race & at 7/2 is opposable.


At the prices, I cannot ignore Mrs Milner.  She was a winner for us last year when winning the Pertemps over 3 miles at odds of 12/1 & I loved the way she kicked clear of her 21 rivals approaching the last to put the race to bed in no time.  Apart from being hampered by a loose horse on the run in, she never looked like getting caught & actually looked better the further she went.  She won on reappearance but finishing a disappointing 4th in the Long Walk back in November.  She’s been off the track since but is reported in excellent form.  The race is sure to be run at a fast pace & that’s massively in her favour given her best form is over further than this.  Provided she’s still in the hunt at the bottom of the hill, I could not see her finishing out of the frame & she’ll almost certainly be staying on best of all up the straight.  At double figure odds & with one bookie paying 5 places, she looks to be a good each way bet.


Back Mrs Milner (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)


17.30 Cheltenham: NH Novice Chase

We end Day 1 with just the 6 runners for the marathon trip of 3 miles 6 furlongs.  It looks like a 3-way battle between Run Wild Fred, Vanillier & Stattler.  For me, that’s probably the order they finish too but it’s another no bet race..

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Author: Martha Chavez