There is little doubt about the fact that the Cheltenham Festival is dominated by Irish racehorse trainers and jockeys these days. In fact, it has been almost a decade since the last time an English trainer managed to win the title of Lead Trainer at Cheltenham. To provide a better idea about why the Cheltenham Festival has become the domain of the Irish for the last decade, an introduction to some key facts is necessary.
The Most Successful Cheltenham Jockey of All Time is Irish: Ruby Walsh (59 Wins)
Ruby Walsh’s multiple records at the Cheltenham Festival are so good that they are borderline ridiculous in comparison to everyone else. For example, Walsh won the title of Top Jockey 11 times in a row at the Cheltenham Festival, while English jockey Peter Scudamore (3x winner) is the only other jockey ever to win 3 or more Top Jockey awards during the festival.
Other than that, Ruby Walsh is also the only Cheltenham Jockey to win 7 races in a single edition (2009). Later, Walsh proved the point that he is his own competition by winning Top Jockey at the Cheltenham once again with 7 wins in 2016. In fact, the authorities have actually renamed the Top Jockey award in his name, as it is now called the Ruby Walsh Trophy.
The Only Female Jockey to Ever Win Top Jockey at the Cheltenham Festival is Irish: Rachael Blackmore
Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore won the title of Top jockey in 2021 by winning 6 races at the Cheltenham Festival. She immediately became:
- The first female jockey in the history of Cheltenham Festival to win Top Jockey.
- The only jockey other than Ruby Walsh to ever win 6 races in one year.
- The first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle.
It should be noted that she went on to win the Grand National last year as well. She is a solid contender for winning this year as well, but fellow Irish jockey Paul Townsend is favourite for all bookmakers at the Cheltenham this year to win the highest number of races.
The Most Successful Cheltenham Trainer in the Last Decade is Irish: Willie Mullins
Between 2011 and 2021, Irish trainer Willie Mullins has managed to win the title of Lead Trainer at the Cheltenham Festival 8 out of 11 times. Mullins was given a break by British trainer Nicky Henderson in 2012, and Gordon Elliott dominated the Cheltenham races for two consecutive years in 2017 & 2018.
Since Gordon Elliott is Irish as well, it will be a complete decade of Irish domination at Cheltenham if Mullins or any other Irish trainer manages to take the lead in 2022 as well. Indeed, it is almost an assured fact, given that a majority of favourite racehorses at the Cheltenham Festival 2022 are Irish-trained.
Will the Irish Win this Year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup?
With a prize purse of £625,000 in 2022, the Cheltenham Gold Cup will kick off at 3:30 pm (GMT) on 18th March, Friday, and is it a big surprise that there is a high chance that the Irish might win this year as well? Don’t go with hearsay and past stats if you are staking your money on the race though. Go through these Gold Cup betting tips to know which horse is in what form, as well as some neat tricks to break even.
Nevertheless, the odds of the Irish jockeys, horses, and trainers winning this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup are pretty good. The most likely horses to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup are A Plus Tard (3/1), Galvin (7/2), and Minella Indo (5/1). Check the breakdown below to know why the Irish are likely to dominate this year as well.
- Minella Indo is an Irish racehorse, trained by Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead, who will be ridden by Irish jockey Jack Kennedy.
- A Plus Tard is a French racehorse, trained by Irish trainer Bromhead, ridden by Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore.
- Galvin is an Irish thoroughbred, trained by Irish trainer Elliott, ridden by Irish jockey Davy Russell.
The main reason why there is a strong presence of Irish trainers, jockeys, and racehorses throughout the National Hunt is that they have been part of the British jump racing sport for almost as long as the sport has been in existence. More importantly, though, there is a greater interest in flat races these days in England, while Ireland’s focus is still on jump races.