The upcoming 2022 Cheltenham Festival is set to be a hugely memorable occasion, not least for the fact that there will be a celebratory atmosphere due to the return of spectators to the Prestbury Park stands. With the Festival having been held behind closed doors last year as a result of coronavirus-related restrictions, it’ll be great to hear that famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ once again as spectators eagerly examine the Cheltenham Festival betting.
However, amidst the carnival atmosphere, there is some very serious business to take care of, especially for certain trainers. We’re used to the sight of Willie Mullins winning the Leading Trainer accolade, but several trainers still have a real point to prove as they head to the Cotswolds this spring. Let’s take a look at three men out to do themselves justice.
The reasons for Gordon Elliott needing to prove a point at Cheltenham this year are plain for all to see. His ban last year following the emergence of unflattering images regarding his treatment of a dead horse sent shockwaves through the sport, and since his return, Elliott has been on a mission to prove that he still deserves to be held in high regard as a trainer.
Missing last year’s Festival was a huge blow for the Irishman, especially as he had recorded seven winners at the 2020 edition — only losing the top trainer award to Mullins on the basis of more third-place finishes. It’s the kind of form Elliott will need to rediscover if he is to establish himself amongst the elite once more.
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The horse he hopes will take him back to the top is Galvin, who is the second favourite in the Gold Cup Day tips behind A Plus Tard. It’s six years since Elliott won his first Gold Cup with Don Cossack — can he find his winning touch and make up for lost time?
As one of the most successful trainers in the history of the Cheltenham Festival, it’s possibly a stretch to say that Nicky Henderson has a point to prove at this year’s event. However, there’s no doubt that a total of two winners at the 2021 Festival will have been viewed as a paltry return by Henderson’s usually high standards.
Shishkin will be seen as a banker by many ahead of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and there’s no doubt that a high-profile championship race win would go a long way towards making the 2022 Cheltenham Festival a more satisfactory one for Henderson. Other strong contenders include Chantry House and Champ, so there are numerous possibilities for success this year.
With 20 Cheltenham Festival winners to his name, Philip Hobbs is a reliable performer when it comes to the four-day meeting, and he’ll be out to prove his horses have what it takes to succeed this year, having failed to land a winner at last year’s event. After missing out on the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2021, Thyme Hill looks set to return to the big stage, and the eight-year-old will take some stopping in the day three feature race. Elswhere, Celebre D’Allen looks like a strong shout for the Paddy Power Plate, whilst Sporting John could do serious damage in the Pertemps Network Final.