2017 Cheltenham Festival – The best of the Irish contenders

Updated: March 12, 2017
gordan elliot

The incredible atmosphere that rattles the grandstands at Prestbury Park is one of the reasons why the Cheltenham Festival is the greatest horse racing meeting in the world. The travelling Irish contingent are an integral part of what makes the Festival so special. Their passion for the sport is unrivalled by fans from any other country, as they cheer on their equine countrymen, who have made the voyage over to England in search of fame and riches.

Of course, the Irish fans can only aid in creating an electric atmosphere, if they have something to shout about. The best trainers in the Emerald Isle always arrive in Gloucestershire with their biggest and brightest talents, as they look to land Festival titles for individual glory and to defeat their British counterparts and take the Prestbury Cup back to Ireland after the festivities have come to a close.

Injuries to several of Ireland’s most prominent title contenders may seem like a blow to their Prestbury Cup chances, but all the Irish trainers still boast enough firepower to challenge for victory in all 28 races, earning bragging rights over their friends, rivals and counterparts once again.

Willie Mullins usually dominates the Cheltenham Festival tips pages. The horse racing gods haven’t been kind to County Carlow’s main man this season, yet he is still expected to take Top Trainer honours next week. Melon, Douvan, Un De Sceaux, Yorkhill and Carter McKay are all overwhelming favourite to take victory in their respective races. Mullins is also set to play a very strong hand in both Mares’ contests, with Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini heading to the Mares’ Hurdle, as Let’s Dance and Airlie Beach battle it out to see who will be crowned Queen of the novices.

Gordon Elliott has been on hand to capitalise on Mullins’ misfortune and leads the Irish Trainer Championship by a narrow margin, coming into Cheltenham. He will be hoping former Mullins stable member, Apple’s Jade can end Willie’s stranglehold on the Mares’ Hurdle and cause a big upset on day one at Cheltenham. Diamond King and Cause of Causes will be looking to add to their collections of Cheltenham titles, with Tombstone, Death Duty, Mega Fortune, Empire Of Dirt and The Storyteller all fancied to challenge for major honours.

According to RacingTips.com, Recent studies revealed that the horse most-backed by the Irish punting public is Mouse Morris’ Alpha Des Obeaux, who will be hoping to upset the favourite in the RSA Chase. Henry De Bromhead’s strong team will be headed by Petit Mouchoir, who is a credible challenger in the Champion Hurdle. Noel Meade’s, A Genie In a Bottle and Joseph O’Brien’s, Edwulf will go head-to-head in the National Hunt Chase, before On The Fringe and Cantlow seek to hand Enda Bolger further Festival glory in 2017.

Dorset-based trainer, Colin Tizzard may have held the Gold Cup in a headlock for most of the season, but there will be a dangerous chasing pack of Irish challengers on hand to capitalise if either of his favourites fall short. Mullins’ Djakadam is well fancied to go one better than the runner-up finish he has recorded in the last two season. Gordon Elliott’s Lexus Chase winner, Outlander will line up alongside stablemate Don Poli, along with Jessica Harrington’s Irish Gold Cup winner, Sizing John and Noel Meade’s Thyestes Chase champion, Champagne West.

The Irish fans won’t care which of their countrymen get their hands on the Gold Cup, as long as the Guinness is flowing, the songs will be singing and the Irish flag will be draped around the winners’ enclosure at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

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