We preview the main chances for the leading Trainers at Cheltenham this year. Will it be another victory for the Irish led by Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins?
Gordon is chasing a third straight leading trainer title at the festival. He trained six winners in 2017 and then a jaw-dropping 8 last year. It’s quite difficult to know how many runners he’ll have or the exact races they may all run in. However, one thing for certain is that we’ll see Gordon in the winner’s enclosure during the week.
Elliott’s Top 20:
- Apple’s Jade Champion Hurdle
- Battleoverdoyen Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
- Champagne Classic National Hunt Chase
- Envoi Allen Champion Bumper
- Delta Work RSA Chase
- Samcro Stayers’ Hurdle
- Commander Of Fleet Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
- Hardline Arkle Chase
- The Storyteller Ultima Chase
- Mengli Khan Close Brothers Chase
- Tiger Roll Cross Country Chase
- Surin Fred Winter
- Shattered Love Gold Cup
- Sire Du Berlais Pertemps Hurdle
- Roaring Bull Brown Advisory Plate
- Measureofmydreams Kim Muir
- Ucello Conti Foxhunters’ Chase
- Dallas Des Pictons Martin Pipe Hurdle
- Eclair De Beaufeu Martin Pipe Hurdle
- Kruzhlinin Foxhunters’ Chase
Of these Tiger Roll looks the pick to add another Cheltenham win to his CV. Ucello Conti is a very classy individual on his day and looks the pick the hunter chase division. Obviously, Apple’s Jade has been very impressive all season and has a live chance in the Champion Hurdle. The pick of his handicap runners looks to be Measureofmydreams in the Kim Muir.
Willie will be looking to regain his title this season but by his own admission his slack on numbers in comparison to other years. That being said, he’s still got a lot of quality horses at his disposal, chief among them perhaps Faugheen who should go lose in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Willie’s Top Ten:
- Benie Des Dieux Mares Hurdle
- Laurina Champion Hurdle
- Min Ryanair Chase
- Real Steel JLT Novices’ Chase
- Faugheen Stayers’ Hurdle
- Allaho Albert Bartlett
- Kemboy Gold Cup
- Blue Sari Champion Bumper
- Uradel Martin Pipe Hurdle
- Livelovelaugh Brown Advisory Plate
Benie Des Dieux looks the pick of Willie’s brigade this season but his strong team is bolstered by Laurina in the Champion Hurdle and the ever-popular Faugheen in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Henry De Bromhead
De Bromhead has a good record at the festival, with the likes of Special Tiara (Champion Chase), Sizing Europe (Champion Chase) and Balko des Flos (Ryanair Chase).
- Paloma Blue Arkle Chase
- Sub Lieutenant Ultima Chase
- A Plus Tard Close Brothers’ Chase
- Honeysuckle Mares Novice Hurdle
- Sinoria Mares Novice Hurdle
- Chris’s Dream RSA Chase
- Daybreak Boy Coral Cup
- Monalee Ryanair Chase
- Cuneo Pertemps Hurdle
- Mind’s Eye Grand Annual
If Henry decides to send Monalee to the Ryanair rather than the Gold Cup then I think it his best chance of a winner at the festival. Chris’s Dream is another horse that must run well in the RSA Chase. Finally if Paloma Blue finds some improvement, he could be a strong player in the Arkle.
The O’Brien string has been in fantastic form, well since he took out his licence really. The young trainer’s juveniles have been particularly strong this season, with the Triumph Hurdle and Fred Winter looking at his mercy.
- Fakir D’Oudairies Supreme Hurdle
- Tower Bridge Close Brothers Chase
- Meticulous Champion Bumper
- Sempo Champion Bumper
- Band Of Outlaws Fred Winter Hurdle
- Gardens Of Babylon Fred Winter Hurdle
- Fine Brunello Fred Winter Hurdle
- Early Doors Coral Cup
- Sir Eric Triumph Hurdle
Sir Eric looks the pick of the O’Brien travelling party but should he fail to win, Meticulous could prove his best chance of a winner in he Champion bumper.
Paul Nicholls has been leading trainer at the festival on five occasions but not since 2009. Some of the races on his glittering CV include the Supreme, Gold Cup, World Hurdle and Triumph Hurdle to name but a few.
- Give Me A Copper Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase
- Ask for Glory Champion Bumper
- Topofthegame RSA Chase
- Friend or Foe Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
- Brio Conti Coral Cup
- Cyrname Ryanair Chase
- Posh Trish Mares Novices’ Hurdle
- Quel Destin Triumph Hurdle
- Clan Des Obeaux Gold Cup
- Southfield Stone County Hurdle
- Magic Saint Grand Annual
Give Me A Copper looks to be Paul Nicholls best chance of a winner for the week. Of the rest Cyrname is the top-rated chaser around and Brio Conti could be well handicapped in the Coral Cup.
Nicky has got a formidable team going to Prestbury Park next week. It seems that he’s got a leading chance in nearly every race and his undoubtedly a trainer to follow.
- Angels Breath Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
- Buveur D’Air Champion Hurdle
- Ok Corral National Hunt Chase
- Janika Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase
- Champ Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
- Santini RSA Chase
- Epatante Mares Novices’ Hurdle
- Whatswrongwithyou Grand Annual
- Altior Champion Chase
- Might Bite Gold Cup
- Mister Fisher Supreme Hurdle
- Verdana Blue Champion Hurdle
- River Wylde Brown Advisory Plate
Altior is obviously Nicky’s best chance of a winner but he’s no price. If I was to do a Lucky 15 with his runners, I’d put in Ok Corral, River Wylde, Santini and Wahtswrongwithyou. All must have big chances and I haven’t even mention the dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air.
Colin Tizzard has been one of the real emerging forces in the training ranks with the likes of Thistlecrack and Cue Card. He also took last season’s Gold Cup with Native River
- Elixir De Nutz Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
- Mister Malarcky National Hunt Chase
- Fox Norton Champion Chase
- Ultragold Cross Country Chase
- Master Debonair Champion Bumper
- Lostintranslation JLT Novices’ Chase
- Kilbricken Storm Stayers Hurdle
- Native River Cheltenham Gold Cup
- Thistlecrack Cheltenham Gold Cup
Native River will be looking for back to back Gold Cups and should go close once again. I think Tizzard’s best chance of the week comes in the JLT with Lostintranslation. The imposing gelding has improved with each run and should appreciate the Cheltenham hill.
Skelton landed the County Hurdle last season with Mohaayed under Bridget Andrews. The pair will be looking for back to back victories this year but will also be represented by the smart Beakstown.