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Cheltenham: Is Another Irish Romp In The Prestbury Cup On The Cards?

Cheltenham: Is Another Irish Romp In The Prestbury Cup On The Cards?
By Andrew Blair White Updated

Over the last number of years, Ireland's grip on the Prestbury Cup has become more and more firm. With a record breaking 23 wins last season, the Irish took apart the British challenge at the Cheltenham Festival and it looks like the Irish will maintain that dominance of the Prestbury Cup this year. 

Starting with the races that the Irish have a firm grip on according to the race markets, there's no better place to start than the Champion Hurdle. This race sees the star mare Honeysuckle take her chance to try to win at the Cheltenham festival for the third time in a row, and potentially her second time in a row in the Champion Hurdle. Looking through Honeysuckle’s likely challengers, the likes of Appreciate It, Teahupoo and Zanahiyr are also all trained by Irish trainers, so it does look like the Irish have a firm grip in this division. 

That can also be said for Day 1 features such as the Mares Hurdle and the Arkle, where the majority of those at the top of the betting came from Irish sources. Blue Lord and Riviere D’Etel leading the charge in the Arkle and TellMeSomethingGirl and Mrs Milner having great opportunities in the Mares Hurdle. 

For the British, they will be looking at the Day 2 feature race, the Champion Chase, to hold the aces of one win in their camp. Shishkin, who so valiantly defeated Energumene at Ascot last time out, will be looking to add to his last year’s success in the Arkle and his previous year’s success in the Supreme, to make it three festival wins in a row. The British contingent will be heavily hoping that the Nicky Henderson charge can do the business, despite facing stern competition from a few Willie Mullins inmates. 

The English also have a good chance in the Supreme, again with two Nicky Henderson runners. JonBon, being the full brother to Douvan - a previous festival winner, has looked very impressive in his couple of starts for Henderson thus far. He is coming into this with an unbeaten record, with his jockey, Aidan Coleman, taking the reins again. They also have Constitution Hill, who comes here as a fresh horse, having won his two races around Sandown this year - most notably, last time out in the Tolworth Hurdle. 

Overall though, the Irish do seem to hold the majority of the aces, and when you look through the majority of the big races and Grade One races throughout the four days, the Irish tend to have the upper hand based on the betting. I don’t believe that it is going to be as much of a rout as it was last year, where there were 23 winners to 5.

Instead, if I was to make a prediction, it would be in and around the 19 to 9 mark. I think the Irish will take a firm hand, but consideration must be given to the way the British have been leniently handicapped in those handicap races, potentially giving them better opportunities to add a few more wins to the scoreboard this time round. It should be an awfully competitive and exciting few days though.

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Our own expert panel for Ladbrokes are also predicting another big win for Ireland.

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