Friday February 8th 2019
Ireland enjoyed plenty of success at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and they are likely to be strongly represented once again. The four-day racing extravaganza has become one of the most notable sporting events on the calendar and Irish trainers have begun to dominate proceedings in recent years. Top trainers such as Willie Mullins, Jessica Harrington and Gordon Elliott will once again be strongly fancied to produce multiple winners at Prestbury Park in 2019.
Ireland chalked up a total of 17 winners at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival resulting in their second highest-ever tally at the event. Gordon Elliott was heavily involved once again as he managed to narrowly retain his top festival trainer crown with eight winners across the four days. Pat Kelly and Henry de Bromhead also recorded winners at last year’s showpiece event and the country is expected to be celebrating once again this year in Gloucestershire.
Apples Jade is one of the leading charges for Elliott this year with the County-Meath trainer expected to enter his talented mare into the Champion Hurdle. She could only finish third in last year’s Mares Hurdle, but has since recorded four consecutive victories in Ireland producing a number of eye-catching displays along the way. She beat SuperSundae in the Irish Champion Hurdle and is currently second favourite in the ante-post betting for the UK equivalent.
Amongst his other fancies, Battleoverdoyen is expected to go well in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle whilst Grand National hero Tiger Roll has been placed prominently in the betting for the Cross County Chase. The diminutive chaser has also been touted for a return to Aintree this year and could bid to defend his crown in the 2019 Randox Grand Health National. He will be hoping to become the first horse since Red Rum to triumph in successive renewals of the iconic steeplechase but is likely to face stiff competition from the likes of Vintage Clouds and Native River. The 40-runner affair is a notoriously tricky contest for punters, but sites such as betting.betfair provide analysis and predictions on the 2019 Grand National and the field is likely to be whittled down further following the conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival.
Willie Mullins is responsible for thirteen of the 44 entries for this year’s RyanAir Chase with 2017 winner Un Des Sceaux amongst those who look set to compete in the Grade 1. Footpad is prominent in the early betting alongside stablemate Kemboy, although the latter may be aimed at the Gold Cup instead. Last year’s winner, Balko Des Flos returns to the track and is another Irish representative, trained by Henry de Bromhead.
Pat Fahy returns to Prestbury Park with Castlegrace Paddy whilst Jessica Harrington is likely to have another strong hand with 2017 Gold Cup-winner Sizing John likely to feature at this year’s festival.
It looks set to be another thrilling four days of action on the turf and plenty of drama and excitement is guaranteed. Irish handlers look set to continue their domination at the Cheltenham Festival this year with the likes of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins expected to be regular visitors to the winners’ enclosure at Prestbury Park in 2019.