Ascot, Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom: Analysing Early Big UK Race Favourites for 2022

Ascot, Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom: Analysing Early Big UK Race Favourites for 202




There isn’t much let-up in the UK racing calendar. Once the flat season comes to an end (in late October), the jumps season gets into full swing. The action is relentless. But as we move from one year to another, at least we can put a point of demarcation by reflecting on what has happened in 2021 and what it means for 2022.

In light of that, we wanted to look at some of the big race favourites for the year ahead, weighing up their chances and asking whether we would be comfortable backing them now. They aren’t tips, as such, more of an assessment of whether they deserve to be the market leaders.

Let’s begin with the horse leading the Royal Ascot 2022 conversation, Trueshan. Crowned the Cartier Champion Stayer of 2021, Trueshan had a fascinating battle with Stradivarius at Longchamp in the Prix du Cadran, with the former coming out victorious. That, coupled with a Goodwood Cup win and yet another Long Distance Cup at Ascot, has caused bookmakers to install Trueshan as favourite for the Ascot Gold Cup (16th June).

Monobo looks a bright prospect

There’s much to like about Trueshan, but the 3/1 odds generally on offer wouldn’t sit comfortably with us if backing long-term on the ante-post markets. Charlie Appleby’s Monobo (8/1) looks a bit more value, but we can understand why most punters would wish to see a bit more of him first.

As for the Epsom Derby (4th June), there’s also daylight between each of the market leaders. Luxembourg went unbeaten in his 2yo season, capping off a fine autumn with big wins at the Curragh and Doncaster. 4/1 is, once again, not appealing at this point in the calendar, and we’d probably prefer to have our money on Native Trail at twice the price.

Native Trail is the market leader for the 2000 Guineas (30th April) at a price of 3/1, and in a role reversal, you can get Luxembourg at 6/1. The unbeaten filly Inspiral is also one to keep an eye on as favourite for both the 1000 Guineas (1st May) and the Oaks (3rd June). There’s a reasonable price of 7/1 to be had in the latter.

A Plus Tard is a worthy market leader

When it comes to the big jumps racing favourites, it’s a little easier to be firm in your convictions, given we have seen many of the market leaders in action already this season. A Plus Tard looks a worthy favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup (18th March). Last year’s runner-up has shown better form than the winner, Minella Indo, so it seems a fair price at 3/1.

Elsewhere at Cheltenham, Honeysuckle is the odds-on favourite for the Champion Hurdle (15th March). It’s difficult to see anyone beating the mare, and, indeed, she might face a weakened field as trainers look to avoid meeting Honeysuckle and red-hot jockey Rachel Blackmore. In the Champion Chase (16th March), Shishkin and Energumene are neck and neck in the betting markets. Everyone has a theory on who’s the better horse, but the battle-hardened Shiskin would probably get our vote

Finally, the Grand National at Aintree (9th April). It’s very tightly packed at the top of the betting markets, but Galvin leads the way at 16/1. Connections have been touting him as a potential Grand National winner for a while now, but you should not discount Gordon Elliott’s Run Wild Fred. The 2021 winner, Minella Times, is 20/1, but he fell in his season debut at Punchestown in early December. You shouldn’t read too much into that, however. Further down the list, Burrows Saint, who finished a credible 4th in the Grand National in April, offers some decent value with odds in the mid-30s. 

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