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Irish Trainers Head to Cheltenham Festival with High Hopes

Ireland have dominated the Cheltenham Festival in recent years, winning the Prestbury Cup in seven of the last eight years. In 2023, they won 18 of the 28 races at the prestigious four-day meeting.

Here is a look at some of the hopefuls for the leading Irish trainers this year.

Willie Mullins

With six winners at the meeting, Willie Mullins was the leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival in 2023. The Irish Champion Trainer goes into the latest renewal with a strong team once again, including with Galopin Des Champs, who is the 8/11 favourite in the horse racing betting odds for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Mullins had an excellent Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. He gave his leading Cheltenham runner a final outing before their trip across the Irish Sea. The Irish Champion Trainer won all eight Grade One races across the two days, dominating the fixture.

The Cheltenham Festival record holder for the most winners at the meeting will saddle State Man in the 2024 Champion Hurdle. He also has one of the leading chances in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in last season’s Arkle Trophy Challenge winner, El Fabiolo.

Gordon Elliott

Cheltenham Gold Cup and triple Grand National winner Gordon Elliott is very familiar with success at the Cheltenham Festival. The 45-year-old has had 37 winners at the meeting, with his highlight in 2023 being his triumph in the Stayers’ Hurdle with Sire Du Berlais.

Elliott will be hoping Gerri Colombe can give him a second Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph this year. His leading 3m chaser won Down Royal’s Grade One Champion Chaser earlier in the campaign. This will be his first attempt at the Blue Riband race in the sport.

Firefox and Found A Fifty go into day one looking to get Elliott off to a good start to the meeting in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Arkle Trophy Challenge respectively. Later in the week, Galvin and Conflated bid to continue their trainer’s excellent record in the Cross Country Chase.

Henry De Bromhead

With back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2021 and 2022 with different horses, Henry De Bromhead added his name alongside a small group of trainers to win the Blue Riband contest more than once.

De Bromhead has just one entry in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup with Jungle Boogie. The 10-year-old moved to his yard earlier this season and won the Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore on just his second start for his new trainer. He is one of the least experienced runners in this year’s Gold Cup field, but De Bromhead has a lot of confidence in his horse.

Envoi Allen represents one of De Bromhead’s best chances at the meeting. He will defend his crown in the Ryanair Chase on three of the races, while in the Cross Country Chase, former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo will be looking for more Cheltenham Festival glory.

Ireland’s best performance at a Cheltenham Festival came in 2021 when they had 21 winners. If the above three men have a good week, that record could be broken this year.

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