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Who Will be Top Trainer at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival?
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Who Will be Top Trainer at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival?
on 20 February 2019

"Gordon Elliott was top Cheltenham Festival trainer in 2018 and 2017" (CC BY 2.0) Dan Heap

In each of the last six Cheltenham Festivals, an Irishman has been leading trainer at the UK's premier National Hunt horse racing meeting.

To be more specific, either Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott have had the most winners. The County Meath handler has just got the better of Ireland's champion jumps trainer at Cheltenham in each of the last two years.

Betting on who will saddle the most Festival firsts this year is a pretty lively market. Emerald Isle trainers might not have it all their own way as the home team have big stables in strong form as Cheltenham approaches.

Gordon Elliott

As top trainer at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, it's no surprise to see Elliott heading Betfair's market on the race as 11/8 joint-favourite. Backed by powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud, he is sure to send a very strong team to the Cotswolds.

Elliott has a leading Champion Hurdle contender in Apple's Jade, who has scored Grade 1 success against the geldings at all distances on her side of the Irish Sea. The yard also tends to target the four-mile National Hunt Chase for novices and amateur riders on day one of the Festival.

Battleoverdoyen and Delta Work, meanwhile, are leading contenders for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle and RSA Chase respectively. Grand National hero Tiger Roll, meanwhile, is all the rage to retain his Cross Country crown and Envoi Allen is favourite for the Champion Bumper.

With plenty of fancies early on in the meeting, and Commander Of Fleet heading the Albert Bartlett market on Cheltenham Gold Cup day, Elliott could have top trainer honours wrapped up halfway through the four days.

Nicky Henderson

"Nicky Henderson" (CC BY 2.0) by danheap77

Seven Barrows handler Nicky Henderson was the last British trainer to saddle the most Cheltenham Festival winners back in 2012. He joins Elliott as the 11/8 joint-favourite to do so again this year.

Henderson also has a number of favourties for Festival glory this year. His best chances are the awesome Altior, who is unbeaten in 17 starts over hurdles and fences and odds-on to retain the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Champ in the Ballymore.

The latter is among the latest Cheltenham racing tips from Betting, after landing the Grade 1 Challow at Newbury just after Christmas. Buveur D'Air has won the last two runnings of the Champion Hurdle, meanwhile, and Santini heads the RSA Chase betting.

Ok Corral is the National Hunt Chase favourite and Angels Breath is well-regarded for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Many of Henderson's top prospects are the property of leading Irish owner JP McManus, and you can also include Birchdale and young mare Epatante among those.

Willie Mullins

Where does County Carlow handler Mullins fit into this conversation? Cilaos Emery is prominent in the Arkle betting and impressive mare Laurina is another leading Champion Hurdle contender.

Mullins is also sure to have a strong hand in both mares' races at the Festival too. His is another stable that targets the Champion Bumper. Min and Footpad may be kept apart with the former favourite for the Ryanair Chase and the latter has plenty to prove still in open company if taking aim at Altior.

Penhill comes to the Cheltenham bidding to defend his Stayers' Hurdle crown a fresh horse. Mullins has never won the Gold Cup, but has several hopefuls again this year and is 11/4 to be top Festival trainer. Bar him, Henderson and Elliott it's double figure prices the rest.

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