Cheltenham Festival Prestbury Cup – the UK vs. Ireland

Nicky Henderson & Willie Mullins at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

Whilst trainers will be desperate to land a race or two at the Cheltenham Festival for the sake of personal pride, there will also be the sub-plot of the battle between the UK and Ireland.

The Prestbury Cup, inaugurated in 2014, is the trophy awarded to the nation with the most winning horses over the twenty-eight races of the Festival. Here’s the lowdown on who’s most likely to land the spoils this year.

Check out our tips and analysis as we build towards the Festival, as well as our Cheltenham Free Bets. We’ve looked at the top 5 jockeys and top 5 trainers for the 2020 Festival, and our man Adrian Wall believes that Shishkin won’t win the Supreme.

Warm Orders

To assess the chances of Ireland and the UK in each of the twenty-eight races, I have divided each race into four categories – warm orders (+3), strong fancies (+2), slight edge (+1) and ties (0).

As often, the Irish contingent have more of what can be called ‘warm orders’. The Mares’ Hurdle should go back across the Irish Sea courtesy of either Benie Des Dieux or Honeysuckle, as should the Ballymore with Envoi Allen dominating that market. Wednesday should also see Ireland land the Cross Country Chase with returning champ Tiger Roll.

The UK have just one contender that fits the bill here, but he’s many people’s best bet of the week. Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park landed the Stayers’ last year and has extended his unbeaten run with two further successes this season.

Ireland: +9 – UK: +3

Strong Fancies

Nicky Henderson’s duo head of Epatante and Pentland Hills head the Champion Hurdle market. In what is a very weak edition, the third favourite is available at 12/1 in Supasundae. The market thinks this contest is going to the British, as it does with the Triumph. The top three in the market (SoloGoshen and Allmankind) are trained on these shores.

A strong favourite in the National Hunt Chase in Carefully Selected suggests that the marathon contest for the novices will be going back to Ireland. Stablemate Appreciate It is similarly well fancied in the Bumper the following day.

It’d be surprising if the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdles didn’t once more go to Ireland, a race of which they’ve won all four editions courtesy of Willie Mullins. Wide-margin handicap winner in 2019, A Plus Tard and compatriot Min could prove hard to overcome in the Ryanair, as could the unbeaten chaser Notebook in the Arkle.

Ireland: +10 – UK: +4

Slight Edge

The UK have a slight edge in the betting in nine contests to the Irish’s five. On Tuesday, Shishkin heads the market in a competitive Supreme, as does Imperial Aura in the Novices’ Handicap Chase and three of the first four in the betting in the Ultima live in the UK.

Nicky Henderson’s Champ and Altior, as well as Philip Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil are slightly favoured over the Irish challengers in the RSA and Champion Chase respectively. Three additional handicaps have British favourites – Birchdale and Protektorat in the Coral Cup, Simply The Betts in the Plate and Greaneteen in the Grand Annual. The 2019 winner of the Foxhunter Hazel Hill is favourite for this year’s renewal.

Ireland always do well in the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle and their Aramax heads the market. Additionally, the last four Pertemps have gone the way of Ireland, and with three of the first four in the betting, including last year’s winner Sire Du Berlais, they could make it five this season.

The raiders also have two of the first three in the markets for the Kim Muir as well as the County Hurdle. Joseph O’Brien landed the Martin Pipe last year and he has the favourite in Front View this season alongside Gavin Cromwell’s Ilikedwayurthinkin.

Ireland: +5 – UK: +9


The market is struggling to decide between Willie Mullins’ Allaho and Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet in the Marsh. A similar situation occurs for the Albert Bartlett, with both Thyme Hill and Monkfish available at around 5/1.

The Gold Cup is one of the toughest races to call of the whole week and the market is behaving accordingly. Three Irish and three British contenders are available at single-figure prices. Last year’s winner Al Boum Photo and Santini are available at very similar odds. Delta Work and Kemboy back up the Irish whereas Colin Tizzard and Paul Nicholls support Henderson with Lostintranslation and Clan Des Obeaux respectively.

3 Ties


The two challengers were inseparable last year, with fourteen wins apiece. Judged on the above system, Ireland are going to prove hard to beat. Their challengers accumulate 24 points to the UK’s 14.

Nevertheless, Tiger Roll winning the Cross Country is only one race, however likely his success is. Judged solely on races alone, there’s little between the two once more. Ireland slightly edge it with thirteen to the UK’s twelve. With three contests’ markets far too hard to decide, there appears to be little between the two challengers once more.

Ireland are odds-on at 10/11 to take the Prestbury Cup, largely in light of three warm orders. The ten handicaps in 2019 were split evenly and there’s little between the two nations this year. Additionally, the likes of Henderson, Hobbs and Nicholls won’t go down without a fight. With 13/2 on offer for the draw, the best bet may be opting for a stalemate again.

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