The 2021 Cheltenham Festival was a meeting Rachael Blackmore will never forget. She finished the week with six winners, taking home the Ruby Walsh Trophy for the most victories by any jockey.
Blackmore will be expecting more success in 2022 as she has a strong book of rides at the four-day meeting. Here is a look at her leading chances.
Honeysuckle – Champion Hurdle
The leading female jockey won her first Championship race at Cheltenham when she landed the Champion Hurdle on board Honeysuckle last March. The unbeaten mare is the odds-on favorite in the betting on Cheltenham with Paddy Power to defend her crown in the day one feature race.
Honeysuckle recently won the Irish Champion Hurdle for the third straight year at the Dublin Racing Festival. She has been popular in the 2022 Cheltenham Cheat Cheets as her rivals have been unable to get close to her over the last two seasons.
Henry De Bromhead’s hurdler should be able to get Blackmore off to a flying start to the meeting again, which will help her confidence for the rest of the week.
A Plus Tard – Cheltenham Gold Cup
It is looking likely that Blackmore will remain loyal to A Plus Tard in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. This is the horse she rode in the race 12 months ago, where the pair chased home stablemate Minella Indo.
The Irish horse has taken a big step forward this season, so he will come into the Blue Riband contest of the meeting with big claims. He was successful in the UK at Haydock in a Grade One chase back in November, while on his latest outing, he finished second in the Savills Chase.
The eight-year-old tops the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting. Success in the most prestigious race in National Hunt racing would be one of the highlights of Blackmore’s career.
Allaho – Ryanair Chase
One of the most impressive performances at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021 came from Allaho in the Ryanair Chase. He dominated the 2m4f contest from the start to the finish.
Blackmore opted to make it a strongly run contest. Her tactics paid off, as her rivals in the race could not keep up with the pace. Many pundits felt it was the ride of the week across the 28 races.
Allaho has a 100% record this season going into the Festival. He won the Grade One John Durkin Chase at Punchestown and then scored at Thurles on his most recent appearance. If Blackmore is given the chance to ride the horse again, it will be interesting to see if she repeats the same tactics.
Bob Olinger – Turner Novices’ Chase
Bob Olinger has established himself as one of the most exciting novice chasers in training this season. Last season’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winner is unbeaten in two starts over fences.
De Bromhead’s runner has made easy work in his two races this season. He is the hot favorite for the Turner Novices’ Chase where Blackmore will partner him. This horse will rank as one of the Irish jockey’s best chances of a winner across the four days.
If Blackmore does end the Festival as the leading jockey again, she will be the first to do so in back-to-back years since Walsh in 2017.