Cheltenham tips: Paddy’s pundits name the most vulnerable odds-on favourite at the 2022 Festival

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Attention turned to a quartet of odds-on favourites on the latest episode of our Cheltenham Countdown podcast series.

Honeysuckle (Champion Hurdle), Shishkin (Champion Chase), Facile Vega (Champion Bumper) and Allaho (Ryanair Chase) were the shorties in the question as one of our loyal listeners wanted to know which horse is the most solid and which horse is the most vulnerable two weeks out from the Festival. Ruby Walsh, Frank Hickey and Rory Delargy stepped up to the plate to answer…

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Rory Delargy:

“Allaho’s chance is blindinglyly obvious, but there seems to be a general acceptance he’ll do what he did last year.

“The one thing about his performance last year was he didn’t win within himself, he pushed himself to the limit almost through the race. That’s why it was such a spectacular performance. If anything had gone wrong it would have been a disaster. He was fast and fluent at his fences but had he missed one it could have been difficult. He went at a really strong gallop and if he’d gone any stronger or not been able to get a breather at the top of the hill, then he would have struggled to win as well as he did.

“The idea any horse can go out and perform to the limit of their ability every time they run is false. I think we’re just taking it for granted Allaho can flick a switch and do that every time he wants to. When you’re doing everything at the limit there’s more chance of something going wrong.

“Strictly speaking, Facile Vega is the most vulnerable because he’s not been to Cheltenham, the Bumper form is notional and there could be an absolute superstar hiding in there that we don’t know about.”

Facile Vega wins at Leopardstown

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Frank Hickey:

“I think Allaho is probably the most solid because I’m struggling to find something that can really put it up to him.

“Facile Vega is by far the most vulnerable. When I’m looking at shorties, he’s the one I want to be taking on. Yes, he’s been impressive and looks the best but we have no idea what the ceiling of ability of the horses is. American Mike’s looked good, Redemption Day’s form has been boosted. I’d be surprised if Facile Vega goes off odds-on.”

Ruby Walsh:

“Who knows what Redemption Day or American Mike are capable of doing? Facile Vega might be capable of doing no more than what he’s done or a hell of a lot more.

“Allaho looks solid to me and I’d be thinking, ‘just don’t fall off it’. He’s further ahead of the opposition.

“You don’t know how far Honeysuckle is ahead of Appreciate It and he could have improved. Shishkin has the least margin of error to uphold the form with Energumene.”

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