2018 Cheltenham Festival: Prestbury Cup Preview
The Prestbury Cup is a relatively new initiative, and it is awarded to whichever of England or Ireland have the most winners at the Cheltenham Festival.
Of course, there’s nothing new about the fantastic rivalry between England and Ireland at the Cheltenham Festival, with the best English-trained and Irish-trained horses pitched into battle against each other in 28 races and four days of the best National Hunt Racing in the world.
However, whilst England used to traditionally dominate in terms of the number of winners at the Festival, it is Ireland who have achieved the highest number of winners in both 2016 (15 winners) and 2017 (19 winners) – winning them the Prestbury Cup on both occasions.
Indeed, the emergence of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott in recent seasons means they won 6 races each at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, and they would have only needed to team-up with Jessica Harrington (3 winners) to win the Prestbury Cup between them last season.
Therefore, with many of the Cheltenham Festival Markets taking shape, it could be a good time to take a look at who might win the 2018 Prestbury Cup.
2018 Prestbury Cup Betting Guide
England 1/1, Ireland 1/1, Draw 7/1
Ireland have often got off to a flyer in the opening race of the Festival in recent seasons, winning 4 of the last 5 Supreme Novices’ Hurdles, and Getabird has been backed into favouritism since winning impressively last time.
It could then be a quick double for Ireland with Footpad many people’s idea of the banker of the meeting for the Irish, whilst Apple’s Jade is already odds-on for the Mares’ Hurdle. The Irish also have a strong-hand in the National Hunt Chase.
England may get one back with Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle, though Faugheen can’t be ruled-out, whilst Ireland haven’t won the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase in the last decade, and England have won 8 of the last 10 Close Brother Handicaps.
Ireland also have plenty of ammunition for Day 2, starting with Samcro in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Thet then have Monalee and Presenting Percy in the RSA, Cause Of Causes in the Cross Country, and Hollowgraphic in the bumper. Meanwhile, Yorkhill looks likely to take in the Champion Chase. They’ve also won the last 2 Renewals of the Coral Cup.
Day 3 has a more open look to it, but the Willie Mullins trained Invitation Only has come in for good support in the JLT against the likes of Willoughby Court. Ireland have also won the last two runnings of the Pertemps Final, whilst Un De Sceaux is favourite to win back-to-back runnings of the Ryanair Chase. Irish horses have also won the last two Brown Advisory Plates, the last two Mares Novices’ Hurdles, and 2 of the last 4 Kim Muir Handicaps.
It could conceivably almost be over for England after day 3 but, if it’s not, Apples Shakira could be another one for England in the Triumph Hurdle. However, Ireland have won 6 of the last 8 County Hurdles, and have a strong-looking hand for the Albert Bartlett with Next Destination and Cracking Smart. Ireland may not have the favourite for the Gold Cup, but they do have last year’s champion Sizing John, as well as stablemate Our Duke and Road To Respect. Ireland have also won 6 of the last 7 runnings of the Foxhunter, 3 of the last 4 Martin Pipe’s, and 3 of the last 5 Grand Annuals.
Ireland may not have the favourites for any of the 4 Championship races at the festival but, with such a strong hand in the other races, and also such a progressive profile at the festival as a whole – the bet looks to be Ireland to win the Prestbury Cup for the third time in a row.