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2022 Champion Hurdle Tips - 12/1 shot the best ante-post bet

14 Mar 2022
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Jon Vine 14 Mar 2022
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  • Ante-post tips and odds for the 2022 Champion Hurdle
  • This Grade One headlines the card on day one of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday 15th March 2022
  • Honeysuckle is currently the odds-on favourite
  • Epatante is our best each-way bet at 12/1
honeysuckle cheltenham
Jockey Rachael Blackmore rides to victory on Honeysuckle in the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1) on Day One of the Cheltenham Festival. (Getty)

The first of the four Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle. Many of the greatest hurdlers in the history of the sport have claimed victory in this historic two-mile event, with the names of Hatton's Grace, Persian War, See You Then, Istabraq and Hurricane Fly shining brightly on the roll of honour.

What better way to kick off our tips for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival by looking through the list of entries for the Champion Hurdle and picking out our best ante-post bets.
    Table Of Contents
  • 2022 Champion Hurdle Ante-Post Guide
  • 2022 Champion Hurdle Odds
  • The Returning Queen
  • Leading Challengers
  • Dangerous Outsiders
  • 2022 Champion Hurdle Tips – Ante-Post Verdict

2022 Champion Hurdle Ante-Post Guide


2022 Champion Hurdle Odds


Name
Odds
Honeysuckle8/11
Appreciate It7/1
Sharjah8/1
Epatante12/1
Zanahiyr14/1
Teahupoo20/1
Bar25/1

*Odds taken on 18/1/22*

The Returning Queen


Honeysuckle2022 Champion Hurdle FavouriteGET 8/11 HERE
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Despite a blemish-free record of 10-straight wins under rules, six Grade One wins and a Mares’ Hurdle triumph, Honeysuckle was still being underestimated prior to Cheltenham last season. 

Henry De Bromhead’s star was clearly the best hurdler in the sport. Yet, when I wrote my Champion Hurdle preview following her second Irish Champion Hurdle, Honeysuckle could have been backed at 15/8. That price, plus her superior form, persuaded me to put the favourite up as my selection. On the day of the race, Rachael Blackmore’s mount was backed into 11/10 and proceeded to bolt up by six-and-a-half lengths.

Since then, Honeysuckle has won the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and made history by winning her third-straight Hatton’s Grace. De Bromhead’s mare will again take in the Irish Champion Hurdle en route to Cheltenham and only a shock defeat at the Dublin Racing Festival could entice the bookmakers into offering an odds-against price on Honeysuckle retaining her crown on day one at the Cheltenham Festival.

Leading Challengers


Sharjah2022 Champion HurdleGET 8/1 HERE
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Sharjah and Epatante finished second and third behind Honeysuckle at Cheltenham and again at Punchestown in the spring. Both have since recorded two victories in Grade One company apiece. Sharjah has won the Morgiana Hurdle and a fourth-straight Matheson Hurdle this term. Epatante was forced to share the Fighting Fifth Hurdle with Not So Sleepy, before reaffirming her position as the best hurdler in the UK with an easy win in the Christmas Hurdle.

Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, Appreciate It was set to go chasing at the start of the season. Following a pre-Christmas setback, Willie Mullins decided to keep last year’s leading novice over the smaller obstacles when he does, eventually, return. 

Given how dominant Appreciate It was over two miles last season, he fully warrants a spot near the top of the betting. Still, backing a horse who hasn’t been seen since last spring is a massive risk, especially when you know his absence has been prolonged by injury.

Gordon Elliott’s duo of Zanahiyr and Teahupoo have performed well enough this season to warrant a crack at the Champion Hurdle. As has Quilixios, despite suffering three-straight defeats since winning the Triumph Hurdle last season. 

Five-year-olds do, however, boast a dismal record in this Grade One, winning just two renewals since See You Then secured the first of his three Champion Hurdles in 1985. Espoir D’Allen, the last five-year-old to win in 2019, was on-hand to capitalise when Buveur D’Air, Apple’s Jade and Laurina flopped. I don’t think any of the aforementioned trio boasts the same natural two-mile speed that Espoir D’Allen possessed and they, as the 2019 winner did, will be relying a little on luck to feature in the finish.

Dangerous Outsiders


My Mate Mozzie2022 Champion HurdleGET 66/1 HERE
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Saint Roi hasn’t made the trip to Cheltenham since storming to victory in the 2019 County Hurdle. Willie Mullins’ charge has been beaten on all four of his starts in Grade One company, but ran reasonably well when fifth behind Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle on his reappearance. A competitive performance at the Dublin Racing Festival could see his current Champion Hurdle odds slashed.

Gordon Elliott could be represented by three five-year-olds in the Champion Hurdle, with the unbeaten Saint Felicien also holding entry. Saint Felicien was raced lightly as a juvenile, winning on his sole start in France and looked a potentially classy sort when cruising to victory on his stable debut at Gowran Park in November. Another strong showing prior to the Festival could see this exciting youngster enter the Cheltenham picture.

Those two aside, it’s hard to make a convincing case for any of the other outliers. 

If the consistent Adagio was to win the Betfair Hurdle off top-weight, then he would enter the discussion but, again, the five-year-olds record stands against him. It would be a shock of biblical proportions if Ann Hamilton’s progressive hurdler, Tommys Oscar was good enough to challenge even for a place at the Cheltenham Festival, and he sits ahead of multiple Graded winners Buveur D’Air, Goshen, Song For Someone and Not So Sleepy in the Cheltenham Festival betting.

Such is the lack of depth in this division, I wouldn’t be shocked to see My Mate Mozzie take up his entry. Gavin Cromwell’s novice has done little wrong over hurdles this season and connections may decide to chance their arm in the Champion Hurdle, rather than square off against Constitution Hill, Jonbon, Sir Gerhard and, potentially, both Dysart Dynamo and Mighty Potter in a top-heavy renewal of the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

epatante
Nico de Boinville riding Epatante clear the last to win The Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. (Getty)

2022 Champion Hurdle Tips – Ante-Post Verdict


Epatante E/W2022 Champion Hurdle Ante-Post SelectionGET 12/1 HERE
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The 2022 Champion Hurdle is Honeysuckle’s to lose. I tipped her up at 15/8 last season, as she represented excellent value at that price. Is there any value to be found placing a single bet on Honeysuckle at 8/11, two months before she even sets sail for Cheltenham? No, is the simple answer.

Due to a lack of serious options against the firm-favourite, it’s taken me a while to come up with a selection. In the end, I’ve come down on the side of EPATANE who, at 12/1, looks to be the best value bet in the race and she'll be the first of my 2022 Cheltenham Festival tips.

Nicky Henderson’s mare ran out a sparkling winner of the Champion Hurdle in 2020. Barry Geraghty’s mount travelled and jumped smoothly throughout, hitting the front on the approach to the final flight before kicking clear of Sharjah to win quite comfortably. 

In stark contrast to her performance the previous year, Epatante produced an error-strewn round of jumping at Cheltenham last year. Upon landing the second-last, Aidan Coleman found himself boxed in on the rail behind pace-setters Silver Streak and Aspire Tower. Honeysuckle was positioned perfectly to strike on the shoulder of the leaders and Patrick Mullins had moved Sharjah forward to challenge, shutting the door in Epatante’s face. 

I’m not for one second suggesting that Epatante would have won given a smoother passage. She was definitely the third-best horse in the day. I’m merely suggesting that track position and tactics stopped Nicky Henderson’s mare from delivering her challenge as intended. 

Surgery on a kissing spine followed soon after another limp performance in Ireland. Henderson had hoped the injury could explain away her poor form last season and was always confident Epatante would return to top form. On the evidence we’ve seen thus far in 2021/22, the master of Seven Barrows has been proven right.

Epatante cruised into contention on her return to action in the Fighting Fifth. Although she failed to pick up enough to completely repel Not So Sleepy, she was running in the midst of a snow storm and Coleman said his mount was fighting against the elements throughout.

Nico De Boinville took over the ride in the Christmas Hurdle, where Epatante ran out a convincing winner. The early pace was slow at Kempton, forcing Epatante to hit the front before the third-last flight. Henderson’s mare was still able to quicken clear down the home straight. Although Glory And Fortune and Soaring Glory were able to close the gap a little in the dying strides, De Boinville knew he had the race won jumping the last and was simply keeping his mount up to her work.

Honeysuckle, Epatante and Sharjah were the best two-mile hurdlers last season and the three have won five (four-and-a-half if you're being pedantic) Grade Ones between them this term. Epatante was far from her best last season and still managed to finish third. Now she’s returned to top form, I’m finding it very hard to see how Nicky Henderson’s star finishes outside the top three, especially with that handy mare’s allowance on her side.
GB

Verdict

With Honeysuckle offering zero value at this stage, I'm going to side with Epatante, a former winner of this race who's returned to her best since finishing third in last year's event. I can see her going off at around 5/1 or 6/1 on the day, so taking 12/1 now seems sensible.

2022 Champion Hurdle Tips: Epatante Each-Way @12/1 at bet365 - 10 Units
Epatante
Each-Way
@12/1 - 10 Units
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Use the bet365 Bonus Code NEWBONUS. Bet £10 & Get £50 in Free Bets for new customers at bet365. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. The bonus code NEWBONUS can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount of the offer. 18+ begambleaware.org

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15 Mar 2022

2022 Champion Hurdle