Betting Tips

Cheltenham Betting Tips: Sharjah the Each Way Play in the 2022 Champion Hurdle

The 2022 Cheltenham Festival can feel a long way away during the deepest and darkest winter months, but the beginning of the season can be a great time to bag some value Cheltenham odds, especially in the antepost Cheltenham Betting Offers for the biggest races.

Many antepost bettors will try to find value by identifying which Cheltenham race their chosen selection is likely to run in, but it can be just as effective to find a race with many unlikely runners who could go elsewhere, leaving the gateway open for a horse to shorten up massively in price. In my view, the Champion Hurdle fits this bill.

Defending Champion Honeysuckle looks sure to defend her title, and is deservedly short to do so, but outside of that, a number of the leading market contenders may not turn up.

Appreciate It, Ferny Hollow, and Bob Olinger all occupy slots in the first six market positions, but all three have been earmarked for chasing this season – which would leave a major hole in the Champion Hurdle betting market given that all three are Cheltenham Festival winners.

That doesn’t apply to SHARJAH, who is still 12/1 with William Hill but could still be the each-way bet of the race. He’s been well beaten by Epatante and Honeysuckle in the last two seasons but has been a rock-solid presence at the top level – despite the fact he’s still just eight – and he’s arguably the most consistent hurdler in training bar the incredible Honeysuckle.

The Morgiana Hurdle that he won on his seasonal reappearance did fall apart thanks to the withdrawals of Darasso and Abracadabras, but he still handled a race fit Zanahiyr with plenty to spare, and his rating of 164 would take some beating for most of the contenders listed close to him in the betting.

Other Champion Hurdle contenders for 2022

Epatante – If back surgery has done the trick for Epatante, then she could be a major player who would be value at 16/1 at bet365*.

Zanahiyr (20/1 at bet365*) didn’t have the gears to answer to Sharjah in the Morgiana, and he may step up in trip.

Echoes In Rain (25/1*) will need to settle better if she’s to make the step up.

Sceau Royal could run here but also has the Champion Chase as an option, given that he mixes hurdles and fences. At the time of writing only Sky Bet were offering odds of 25/1 for the Champion Hurdle.

Adagio (40/1 Betfair) finished second in the Greatwood Hurdle was a fine effort and he’s worth keeping a eye on, although one could argue performances from other juveniles show how he’s still got to improve to make the grade here.