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Cheltenham - Racing: Day One Preview

The famous Cheltenham roar will be echoing across the Cotswolds on Tuesday afternoon as crowds return for the start of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.

Last year the 'greatest shown on turf' went ahead behind closed doors, so it will be a very different feeling come 13:30 on Tuesday afternoon when the tapes go back for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Here's our race-by-race look ahead to day two of Cheltenham 2022 and you can get some pre-Festival tips from our Upping The Ante team.

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13:30 - Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2m½f)

Between them Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have won the Festival curtain-raiser 11 times, the Irishman with seven and the master of Seven Barrows bagging four. In recent times, they have been dominant, taking seven of the previous nine renewals and it will take a brave call to rail against those recent trends continuing now.

Both trainers are holding strong hands. Henderson's Constitution Hill is 2/1 and unbeaten after two hurdles starts, impressively winning the Tolworth at Sandown last time. He looks to be a horse with gears.

Stablemate Jonbon, at 4/1, has been the 'hype horse' even since JP McManus spent £570,000 on him. He's done nothing wrong but he can be a little keen, both in the preliminaries and in his races, and must prove equal to the occasion, as much as anything.

Henderson fires both at the target and will be desperate for a winning start to the meeting.

Mullins has split his aces, with Sir Gerhard held back for Wednesday's Ballymore, leaving 2/1 Dysart Dynamo the main contender here. He, too, has raced keenly at times but is clearly a talent. Last year's Champion Bumper second Kilcruit is 6/1 for Team Mullins, while Gordon Elliott's Mighty Potter is 10/1 and has shown a high of ability in top-level races this term.

The Supreme has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster opener to the meeting.

14:10 - The Arkle Challenge Trophy (2m)

Last year was a chastising experience for UK trainers as Ireland ran out 23-5 winners across the four days.

The raiding party are widely expected to dominate again this year, but Britain could be out of the blocks fast as Edwardstone is 9/4 to land the Arkle for trainer Alan King. He has won his last four starts, three of those at graded level, and looks a polished performer with few flaws now.

With two leading players in the opening race, could the UK trainers be heading for an early 2-0 lead over Ireland in the Prestbury Cup?

Mullins and Henderson, meanwhile, account for six of the last seven Arkle winners.

Irish Arkle scorer Blue Lord is 10/3 for the Closutton maestro here, though plenty observers felt he was very fortunate to get the better of Gordon Elliott's mare Riviere D'etel at last month's Dublin Racing Festival.

She has lots of good form in the book and is 4/1 to land the Arkle on Tuesday.

Mullins' challenge may also include the likes of 8/1 Haut En Couleurs - a faller in the Irish Arkle - and 7/1 Saint Sam. In a rare twist, Henderson is without an Arkle candidate this year.

14:50 - Ultima Handicap Chase (3m1f)

If all goes to plan in the opening two races, Britain could be staring at a dreamy 3-0 lead over the Irish here, with every winner of the Ultima since 2006 hailing from the home team.

Allowing for that, punters may be wary of 7/1 chance Death Duty for trainer Gordon Elliott.

Kim Bailey's Does He Know is 7/1 after a stylish Ascot win last month and he's got winning Cheltenham form at this distance this season. He looks sure to go close for a trainer who narrowly missed out in this contest last year.

Perhaps the most fascinating contender is former Ryanair Chase winner Frodon at 14/1, with champion trainer Paul Nicholls targeting this race despite the prospect of carrying top-weight.

'The Dude' has won six times over fences at Cheltenham in his career to date, a fabulous record at this famous venue, and he will have Bryony Frost for company as always.

Shouldering a big weight won't be easy, but Frodon is a game sort and has a Grade 1 win under his belt already this season.

Will his class see him through against some promising handicappers and get Britain's champion trainer on the scoresheet?

15:30 - Champion Hurdle (2m½f)

All eyes on the majestic mare Honeysuckle as she's 4/7 to successful defend her Champion Hurdle crown and take her career record to 15 wins from 15 starts.

Henry De Bromhead's charge has looked good in Ireland this season, easing to another Irish Champion Hurdle success last month at Leopardstown.

She is, of course, the mount of Rachael Blackmore, who made history at this meeting a year ago in riding six winners and being crowed top jockey at The Festival.

Blackmore and Honeysuckle are the darlings of jumps racing right now and the packed grandstands will be desperate to see them adding a second Champion Hurdle crown.

The betting says that 4/1 Appreciate It is going to be the principle threat to Honeysuckle - despite Willie Mullins' charge not having raced since winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle on this card 12 months ago.

He was ultra-impressive that afternoon, but connections had planned on going chasing this season before a setback. He's been trained at home for this since Christmas, but can he tumble the mighty mare with a prep-run?

Mullins is the master trainer and his list of achievements at this meeting is already longer than this arm - if Appreciate It can stun Honeysuckle on his first start in a year it might just be up there with anything he's done before.

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16:10 - Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle (2m4f)

The Mares' Hurdle could be boasting as many as four previous Cheltenham Festival winners - though none of them have bagged this prize before.

A race Willie Mullins has owned since it was initiated in 2008, with the Irish handler winning nine times. Six of those belonged to Quevega from 2009-2014 and, more recently, Mullins has failed to win any of the last three Mares' Hurdles.

Former Triumph Hurdle winner Burning Victory is in the mix at 6/1 for him this time, though many will be drawn towards Stormy Ireland at 11/2 after she impressed winning the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

Telmesomethinggirl stormed up the Cheltenham hill to win the Mares' novices' race last March for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore and, after a fine run behind Royal Kahala at Christmas, is trading at 11/4 to taste more Festival success.

Mrs Milner won the Pertemps Final last March for Paul Nolan and is 9/1 in this field, while 2021 Coral Cup scorer Heaven Help Us is 11/1 in a field that is brimming with Cheltenham pedigree.

That duo have to prove they can cut it in amongst Grade 1 rivals now, having scored in festival handicaps last March.

16:50 - Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2m½f)

Despite the fact he has never yet run for trainer Willie Mullins, Gaelic Warrior trades at 5/2 to win the Boodles. Owner Rich Ricci bought him from France and connections appear confident that a mark of 129 could seriously underestimate a horse with graded potential.

In the lead-up to Cheltenham, no horse in a handicap has garnered more interest than Gaelic Warrior - he is the 'king of the whispers' heading to the meeting. If he's as good as they believe, the he's surely got at least 10lb in hand on the handicapper.

The trouble is, the Fred Winter is typically littered with unexposed young horses and punters are being asked to take an incredibly short price now.

As much as anything, it will be fascinating to see how the market judges Gaelic Warrior come raceday - with some observers believing he might tumble lower than 2/1 if the Irish are having a profitable afternoon.

The last four runnings of this have gone to Ireland and The Tide Turns (Gordon Elliott), Brazil (Padraig Roche) and Champion Green (Joseph O'Brien) are others to look out for.

17:30 - National Hunt Challenge Cup (3m6f)

Amateur riders could not take part at the Festival last year, but they are back now and this is the first race designated for them.

Gordon Elliott has enjoyed unmatched recent success in the National Hunt Chase and he has Troytown winner Run Wild Fred at 5/2 in the market. He was second in a Grade 1 at Christmas in Ireland and looks a major player.

The battle between Elliott and Mullins will be a real sub-plot all week. Since 2012, Elliott's leading trainer gongs in 2017 and 2018 are the only occasions Mullins has not prevailed with that honour.

The Festival's all-time leading trainer is set to send out 9/4 Stattler in the day one finale. He's two-from-two over fences and boasts Cheltenham form, having finished fourth in the Albert Bartlett last season, suggesting stamina is his forte.

Both these Irish powerhouses will be eager to sign off day one with a winner - and they can essentially be classed as having trained seven of the last 11 winners in this race between them.

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