Ireland’s Festival triumphs in numbers
Danny Scutchings looks at how the numbers stacked up to give Irish-trained runners another successful Cheltenham Festival
As the dust settles on another Cheltenham Festival who did better Ireland or Britain? Time to look at the final numbers.
Willie Mullins finished as top trainer after winning five of the seven races on the final day (Ireland also won the other two). In total, he had 10 winners, three seconds and and seven thirds.
Stattler won the National Hunt Chase on day one, Sir Gerhard, Energumene and Facile Vega all won on day two, Allaho on day three and Vauban, State Man, The Nice Guy, Billaway and Elimay rounded off the Festival on Friday.
Thst gave him a record 88 Festivsl wins in total and there’ll be many more to come.
Henry De Bromhead was second with Gordon Elliott third.
And there was very nearly an Irish first. Had Winged Leader scored in Friday’s Hunters’ Chase, he’d have been the first Festival winner trained in Northern Ireland. But, the David Christie eight-year-old was collared on the line by the Mullins trained Billaway and went down by a neck.
Three Irish jockeys topped the final leaderboard with Paul Townend winning, Patrick Mullins second and Rachel Blackmore third.
Townend had five winners, two seconds and three thirds. The leading owner award went to Cheveley Park who own among others Sir Gerhard, Allaho and Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard.
And, despite going 3-0 down early after claiming all seven races on the final day, the Irish trainers also took the Prestbury Cup, beating their British rivals 18-10.
So I think we can safely say it was Ireland’s Festival again.
It was another dominate display but how do the British trainers challenge in 12 months time?
That’s a matter for the likes of Gary Moore, Dan Skelton, Venetia Williams and leading British trainer Nicky Henderson to try and address.
Can they do it? I’m not so sure as the Irish seem to bring over a stronger contingent every year. But, if the British don’t find something, then I think we could be looking at another record breaking year come 2023.
Now fingers crossed for a good Flat season for the Irish as racing moves on.