When selecting our Cheltenham Festival tips, one of the key aspects to be considered is the trainer of the horse and their form at Prestbury Park. In the last 10 years, just seven trainers have saddle 10 or more winners, although a total of 70 different trainers have had at least one winner.
1. Willie Mullins – 39 winners
It’s probably no surprise given his recent domination of Cheltenham Festival that Irish trainer Willie Mullins has the most Cheltenham winners in the last ten years, aided by the fact that only one other trainer – Nicky Henderson – has sent more runners. He does maintain an impressive 12% strike though – the highest on our list – and boasts a small profit to Betfair Exchange SPs. He’s got a losing return on investment to Starting Prices, but with such a high strike rate there is clearly value in at least some of his runners.
His most profitable winner for backers was Ebaziyan, back in 2007, who took the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at a massive 40/1. More recently, Wicklow Brave took the County Handicap Hurdle at 25/1 in 2015, having been backed in from even bigger prices through the afternoon.
2. Paul Nicholls – 27 winners
The British Champion Jumps trainer for 9 of the last 10 years, it’s no surprise to see Paul Nicholls high on the list. He has sent a very similar number of runners to Cheltenham Festival as Willie Mullins – just 5 less with 317 runners – but his strike rate of 8.5% is far below his Irish rival. Despite also having a losing return on investment, there is still value in his runners with a 28/1 winner (Solar Impulse) in 2016 and a 25/1 winner (Qualando) in 2015. Both of those winners came in handicap races – the Grand Annual Chase and the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle – suggesting that may be an interesting angle in 2017 again.
3. Nicky Henderson – 24 winners
The Lambourn based trainer holds the record for the most number of runners at Cheltenham Festival in the last ten years, with 338, but unfortunately boasts one of the lower strike rates on our Top Trainers list. That said, he still has a strike rate of 7% that any smaller trainer would envy, and with an additional 61 places from his runners he has picked up a huge amount of prize money at Cheltenham. However, just two of those 24 winners came in 2016 (Altior and Sprinter Sacre at 4/1 and 5/1 respectively) and just two in 2015 (Peace And Co and Call The Cops at 2/1 and 9/1 respectively).
While he has had bigger price winners in the past, including 40/1 and 20/1 shots back in 2012, he’ll be hoping for a more fortunate Cheltenham Festival in 2017. He does appear to have a strong hand, with Buveur D’Air, Top Notch, Altior and Might Bite all holding strong chances in their races.
4. Jonjo O’Neill – 15 winners
The trainer of one of our previous Cheltenham Festival tips, Jonjo O’Neill has sent half as many horses to the Festival as the three trainers above him in the list, and therefore boasts an impressive 9.5% strike rate. Even more impressively, he is the only trainer on our list to boast a profit to level stakes at Starting Price – that is, a £1 bet on each of his runners at Starting Price would have returned a profit of £29. Not only is that an impressive 19% Return on Investment, but bigger prices would have been available for most of his runners earlier in the day or week, allowing for even more profit.
He has had a number of big price winners in the last ten years, including Holywell in 2013 at 25/1 and Butler’s Cabin back in 2007 at 33/1. He currently has five horses entered in early closing races at the Festival, with More Of That at 16/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle the shortest price, suggesting he will be looking to rely on handicaps to add to his tally on 15 winners, which may provide more profitable opportunities.
5. David Pipe – 14 winners
David Pipe has the lowest strike rate on the list, with 14 winners from 237 equalling 5.9%, but with Western Warhorse coming home a 33/1 winner of the Arkle back in 2014 and Un Temps Pour Tout winning the Ultima Handicap Chase at 11/1 last season he is not to be written off. His strike rate in the last two seasons has dipped to 14%, suggesting he may not have quite the same ammunition in his yard which he used to have, but he saddled Vieux Lion Rouge to win the Haydock Grand National Trial impressively to show he can regularly send over winners in competitive races.
The 2015 Champion Bumper winner Moon Racer is probably his most likely winner at Cheltenham Festival this year, but he holds a number of big price entries across the novice and handicap races which will be interesting for our tips and previews.
6. Alan King – 11 winners
Boasting 11 winners from 177 runners, Alan King will be looking forward to the 2017 Cheltenham Festival more than most with Yanworth – our Champion Hurdle tip – having a huge chance to represent his trainer in the winners’ enclosure on the opening day of the Festival. He also has Uxizandre, who looks to reclaim the Ryanair Chase crown which he lost to Vautour in 2016. and a host of promising novices at big prices in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.
7. Nigel Twiston-Davies – 10 winners
The last of the seven top trainers on the list, our columnist Nigel Twiston-Davies has provided plenty of thrilling Cheltenham Festival moments, including Blaklion’s game RSA Chase win last season and Imperial Commander’s Gold Cup in in 2010. He boasts an impressive number of huge price nearmisses too, including a 66/1 second place with Ackertac and a 100/1 third place finish with Changing Times. His horses have been in fine form – his strike rate of 20% is at least 5% higher than anything he has managed since 2004 – and we wish him all the luck for a successful Festival.
Our Cheltenham Festival tips section includes betting previews for every single race and a number of tips which are online now. Keep an eye on our Twitter – @myracingtips – for updates as more of our tips for the big event are posted by our expert tipsters.