Cheltenham Festival 2022
5 Stars To Watch Out For This Week
By Samantha Martin
One of the best things about horse racing is that men and women compete on a level playing field.
Honeysuckle is often deemed the ‘Queen of National Hunt Racing’ and will be taking on the boys in
the Champion Hurdle today, partnered by Rachael Blackmore, who is also referred to with that very same nickname. British‐bred but Irish‐trained, Honeysuckle began her career with a win at Dromhane point to point over three miles, but it has been over two miles where she has really flourished. With fourteen wins from fourteen starts under rules, her rivals in the Champion Hurdle will have to be at their very best to worry her.
Everyone knows and loves Tiger Roll. This will be his final racecourse appearance. His first ever start
was in November 2013, when he was trained by Nigel Hawke, and he has won during every season
since that day. With Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown, the highlights of Tiger Roll’s career
have been winning the Triumph Hurdle, Munster National, National Hunt Chase, the Cross Country
Chase at Cheltenham three times, the Boyne Hurdle and, of course, the Grand National twice. He has
caught the imagination of not just racing fans but the public, too, and aims to go out with a bang in
the Cross Country Chase.
The Champion Chase looks to be one of the highlights of the meeting with the highly‐anticipated
rematch between Shishkin and Energumene. Shishkin is the horse with superstar status after
winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2020 and turning the Arkle Novices’ Chase into a procession
in 2021. This is the route his stablemate Altior took to Champion Chase glory. However, Shishkin did
have some issues at the beginning of the season but put them behind him to win at Christmas in the
race named after the great Desert Orchid. Despite jumping errors, Shishkin managed to beat
Energumene at Ascot in February and there is an abundance of talented horses in the line‐up so he
will have to be on his A‐game in order to confirm his status as star of the two‐mile chasing division.
There are three Stayers’ Hurdle winners returning to the race in 2022 and Paisley Park has caught
the public’s imagination more than the other pair. Owned by Andrew Gemmell, who has been blind
from birth, he reached the top‐tier in the 2018 season when he won a grade one, two and three
before success in the Stayers’. In 2020, he was seventh and, in 2021, he was third. He has suffered
from a few issues since the Stayers’ win and he filled the third‐placed spot on all three starts at the
end of 2021, but, on trials day, he crossed the line first in bizarre circumstances. He lost almost
twenty lengths at the start, but Aidan Coleman showed excellent horsemanship to allow him to go
through the race at his own pace. Paisley Park has the heart of a lion.
5. Al Boum Photo
Unfortunately, we don’t see Al Boum Photo very often, but he has won two Gold Cups and is bidding
to reclaim his crown in 2022. Last year, he was third in the race, beaten five and a half lengths by
Minella Indo and A Plus Tard. After that, he was second to English horse Clan Des Obeaux at the
Punchestown Festival. This season, he took his typical route to the Gold Cup ‐ a trip to Tramore for
the Savills New Years’ Day Chase, which he has won every year since 2019. Reports from Willie
Mullins’ yard have not necessarily been positive in the lead up to this year’s Festival, regarding Al
Boum Photo. We will have to trust that the master trainer will have him in perfect form for the big day.