After that embarrassing 23-5 defeat to the Irish in last year’s race for the Prestbury Cup, if you can even call it that, there’s no doubt that the top British trainers will want to put things right at the upcoming 2022 renewal of the Cheltenham Festival — hoping to spare some of their blushes with more Grade 1 victories and a couple of wins in the championship races, which all went in the favour of the Irish last time around. .
Racegoers back in attendance at Prestbury Park for the first time in two years, the sheer magnitude of the Festival and the excruciating loss to their cross-Irish Sea rivals should be enough for any British trainer to really give it their all in less than a fortnights’ time. But for Colin Tizzard, there is an extra motive — this will be the farmer-turned-horseracing trainer’s final time at Cheltenham before he hands his license down to his son Joe.
Tizzard probably would have liked to have more Festival winners over his 20-odd year career as a handler, but he certainly has some memorable ones — like Native River winning the Gold Cup in 2018, which is actually the last time the sought-after trophy stayed on British soil.
Having already postponed the changing of the guard by a season, you feel this really is the last chance to add to his tally. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the 66-year-old’s best chances of glory!
Amarillo Sky – Grand Annual Challenge Cup
The leading chance from Tizzard’s yard in the Cheltenham 2022 betting odds, Amarillo Sky is a 10/1 shot in the Grand Annual Challenge Cup — making him the fourth favourite. The six-year-old started his season over hurdles, carrying on from his maiden campaign last year, but after finishing sixth in his reappearance, he was switched to chasing.
Fourth on his debut over fences, Amarillo Sky won at Wincanton next time out, but he couldn’t build on that — finishing second at Ascot and falling at Newbury. He was impressive in his following race last month though, jumping well and going on to win by 10 lengths clear of favourite Shakem Up’Arry in a Handicap Chase back at Newbury. He’ll be up against stiff opposition at Cheltenham, but don’t rule him out!
Eldorado Allen – Ryanair Chase
A race Tizzard has won just once, when Cue Card stormed home in the 2013 renewal, another victory in the Ryanair Chase would be the perfect send off for the 66-year-old. That’s easier said than done though, as defending Festival Trophy holder Allaho is largely expected to breeze around the new course and win in similar fashion to last year.
It’s fair to call Eldorado Allen something of an outsider at general odds of around 12/1, but he has won two of his four races this season, including the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in November and the Denman Chase at Newbury last month, while placing in second and third, respectively, in between. When the entries get whittled down, Eldorado Allen could appear to be one of Allaho’s main competitors — but Tizzard might have to settle for a place on the podium.
War Lord – Arkle Challenge Trophy
Tizzard’s other Grade 1 hope, War Lord is as far out as 25/1 to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy on the opening day of the meeting. The two-mile Novices’ Chase looks set to be hugely competitive, with Edwardstone, Riviere D’etel and Blue Lord all leading the market for Alan King, Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, but we all love a good upset in the big races — and War Lord could provide just that.
Also switching to chasing from hurdles ahead of this season, the seven-year-old won his two races over fences before being well beaten by Edwardstone in his maiden Grade 1 attempt in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December.
Positives can be taken from that race though, finishing second from 10/1, and he was back in the winner’s enclosure last time out in January — winning a Novices’ Chase at Lingfield. He certainly doesn’t have the graded experience of the favourites, which could be his downfall in the Arkle.