Crowds are set to return to the New course at Cheltenham for this year’s Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup 2022 will be welcomed by the thousands of racegoers expected to attend after last year’s covid restrictions saw empty stands at the 2021 festival.
This year’s festival runs from Tuesday, March 15 to Friday, March 18 and will see around 65,000 people attend four days of top class horse racing.
The 2021 festival was dominated by the Irish, with a record 23 Irish trained horse victories out of a total of 28 races. The pinnacle of the 2021 festival, the Gold Cup itself, was won by Irish jockey Jack Kennedy with Minella Indo.
The eight-year-old gelding, owned by Barry Maloney, was trained by Henry De Bromhead. De Bromhead enjoyed a number of other victories at the 2021 festival, and is expected to do well again this year with another strong squad of racehorses set to run. A Plus Tard, another De Bromhead trained horse, came second to Minella Indo and is joint favourite with the latter to take home the cup this year.
Unfortunately, fellow Irish trainer Willie Mullins, whose horses also dominated last year’s races, has been dealt a blow. Monkfish, who won the 2021 Brown Novice’s Chase and looked like a strong contender for this year’s cup, suffered a tendon injury and had to pull out. The seven-year-old ‘s impressive win saw him beat Fiddlerontheroof into second place by over six lengths. However, Mullins has a good chance this year with Ferny Hollow and Galopin Des Champs.
So, what can we expect over the four days of the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup event? Here is a rough schedule of the 94th horse racing festival.
Day 1: Tuesday, March 15
Traditionally known as ‘Champion Day’, a highlight of the first day at the Cheltenham Festival is the UNIBET Champion Hurdle, which has been won in previous years by Hurricane Fly, Istabraq, and Buveur D’Air. All four Grade 1 races on Day 1 of the 2021 festival saw some stunning performances, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens this year. The first day also sees the start of the live music entertainment and food stalls that will be available throughout the duration of the festival.
Day 2: Wednesday, March 16
Last year’s Ladies Day marked an exciting milestone when Tiger Roll became only the third horse in the festival’s history to win five or more races. Ladies Day always brings a touch of style to the festival, but there’s more to the second day than just fashion. Racegoers and viewers can expect some first-class racing, including the much-anticipated Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. The Grade 1 race, which has been dominated by Sprinter Sacre and Alitor in recent years, saw a win by the 17/2 Put The Kettle On last year. Other races scheduled include the Ballymore Novice’s Hurdle, the Coral Cup, and the Cross Country Chase.
Day 3: Thursday, March 17
St Patrick’s Thursday celebrates all things Irish, with races headlining the schedule such as the Ryanair Chase and the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle. Last year’s Day 3 saw some incredible performances from Irish jockeys. Rachael Blackmore, who landed her fourth Grade 1 race on the third day, rode Allaho to victory at the Ryanair Chase. She also saw a win at the Parnell Properties Mares Novices’ Hurdle with Tell Me Something Girl.
Day 4: Friday, March 18
Gold Cup Day rounds off the festival with seven final chases and hurdles, including the much-awaited feature race that made household names of Kauto Star and Best Mate. The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (0-145) is set to close the festival at 5.30pm, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase scheduled to start at 3.30pm. Last year’s race was won by Minella Indo, chased home by stablemate A Plus Tard. Could Minella Indo be set for another win this year? The gelding is this year’s joint favourite, so it’s possible.
What to expect
Could the Irish trained horses be in for a second record-breaking year at the 2022 Gold Cup? It’s certainly conceivable. While Willie Mullins has suffered a setback, he still has a strong squad of runners, as does Henry De Bromhead. Whether they smash another record or not though, it still looks likely that the Irish will have another successful year at the Gold Cup.