The Cheltenham Festival 2020 is only a couple of weeks away, in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the sporting calendar. This race meeting is one of the highlights of the National Hunt calendar and started off in 1860. Racing enthusiasts will be able to enjoy several Grade 1 races which include the Gold Cup, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Champion Hurdle.
The atmosphere is truly electric, especially with the huge amount of prize money on offer; second only to the Grand National. This is also reflected in the on-course, and more recently, online betting at the festival. Furthermore, St Patrick’s Day is always celebrated at the same time, which means there is a huge Irish fan base. Therefore, it only fitting to review Irish trainers who are expected to make their mark on the event.
Willie Mullins is one of the most respected trainers in the sport and is by far and away Cheltenham’s leading trainer when it comes to winners and titles. He’s had sixty-five of the former over the years, with the likes of Faugheen, Quevega, Hurricane Fly, Champagne Fever and Vautour, to name a few.
Mullins will be travelling from Closutton with a big team as he attempts to secure another top trainer accolade, and he’s more than capable of doing so. Al Boum, who won the Gold Cup last year, as well as Carefully Selected, are the pick of the bunch in our opinion.
Gordon Elliott is undoubtedly Willie Mullins’ most significant rival for the title of the top trainer at Cheltenham 2020. He’s picked up the prize twice already and is more than capable of making it a hat trick this time around.
Elliott, who possesses a team backed by Gigginstown House, is one of the strongest on paper. Elliott will be looking to get off to a winning start early, with some fantastic chances on the opening day thanks to Abcadabras, Battleoverdoyen and Tiger Roll. The pick of Elliott’s bookings is the unbeaten Envoi Allen in the Ballymore.
Henry De Bromhead
Henry De Bromhead is a well-known face at Cheltenham, and so far, he has seven winners at the festival to his name. Unlike Mullins and Elliott, who send big teams across, De Bromhead is more selective. And, this approach has paid off for him over the years. He had two winners at the festival in 2019, and he will be looking to build on this.
Minello Indo and A Plus Tard picked up the wins for De Bromhead last season, and they’ll be making appearances again this time around. De Bromhead’s most exciting hope at Cheltenham 2020 is undoubtedly Honeysuckle, and she could appear in either the Champion Hurdle or the Mares Hurdle. Two races in which she will fancy her chances to pass the finishing post in first place.
Joseph O’Brien is an Irish trainer to keep an eye on at this year’s festival, with the young trainer looking to add to the winners he already has at Cheltenham. Ivanovich Gorbatov, while Dad Aidan was the official trainer, was the work of Joseph O’Brien, and Band of Outlaws and Early Doors are two more winners he’s registered.
So far, O’Brien is leaving his mark on multiple events, with the Breeders’ Cup and Melbourne Cup prime example, and now he will be eager to build on his early successes at Cheltenham 2020 with Fakir D’oudairies and Early Doors in with a chance.