Record 15 Irish-trained winners at Cheltenham unlikely to be repeated
The Irish are expected to score between 10 and 12 winners at the 2017 hunt festival
Sunday’s Grade 1 winner Disko is likely to take his place in the JLT at Cheltenham. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
There was a record 15 Irish-trained winners at the 2016 Cheltenham festival but bookmakers appear to reckon the visitors’ fortunes will dip slightly when this year’s festival begins in four weeks’ time.
It is odds-on that the Irish raiding party will score between 10 and 12 winners at the 2017 festival with the RaceBets firm making it 6-1 about there being 15 or more winners this time.
It’s little surprise then that the home side are 1-3 to reclaim the Prestbury Cup, which last year saw a tie between Britain and Ireland on 14 races each.
Five months later though the Cross-Country winner Any Currency failed a drug test and the Enda Bolger-trained Josie’s Orders was awarded the race, leaving the final Anglo-Irish tally at 15-13.
“There’s plenty of reason for optimism given Irish-trained runners are favourite or joint-favourite for 14 races this year. But the figure was 19 at the same stage last year,” pointed out RaceBets spokesman Joseph Burke.
The Anglo-Irish rivalry is always an eagerly-anticipated element to the festival where an average of 14,433 Irish race fans attend each of the four days, spending €22.3 million in the local Cheltenham economy.
The figures were uncovered in an economic survey carried out last year by the University of Gloucestershire and released on Monday.
Noel Meade has indicated that Sunday’s Grade 1 winner Disko is likely to take his place in the JLT at Cheltenham while another Michael O’Leary owned novice, A Genie In Abottle, will take his chance in the four mile National Hunt Chase.
“Jamie Codd will ride. He’s one of our top amateur rides and that makes a difference in that race,” Meade said. “A Genie In Abottle is a strong stayer and I think he was beaten by a Grade 1 horse (Anibale Fly) at Naas.”