Cheltenham has been a very British affair this year. Now when we say that, we don’t mean to imply that it’s full of well dressed gentlemen wearing monocles, drinking Earl Grey and tripping over corgis at their feet. That’s more like your average day in Ascot, before the chavs got hold of it. No, this year’s Cheltenham has been dominated by horses and punters in the UK.
The UK charge lead 14-6 in races while punters using the Queen’s sterling have the edge as well. The Brits have won nine per cent more than the Irish on the first three days of the Cheltenham Festival and have cashed in on the good form of David Pipe, Philip Hobbs and Jonjo O’Neil. (Yes, we know Jonjo is from Cork and More of That is an Irish horse, but he trains in the UK and that’s the way the cookie crumbles).
In terms of city v city, big kudos have to go to punters from Derry and Bristol who lead the way, with Derry taking more than a 10 per cent profit off Paddy in the first three days at Cheltenham. Completing the top seven punting cities are Leicester, Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, and Manchester.
Unfortunately for the Irish, Cork are by far the worse off propping up our punting table, while those having a cheeky bet on the Festival in Birmingham have just about broke even for the week.
Irish punters were let down by Annie Power on Wednesday as Willie Mullins’ mare was worn down by More Of That in the World Hurdle. Although things had started so well. Vautour in the Supreme Novices’, Jezki’s surprise in the Champion Hurdle and Quevega’s incredible sixth Mares’ Hurdle gave the Irish a treble on day one but they couldn’t keep it up.
The pressure’s on for Friday’s racing as Irish punters try to get back on track and Derry and Bristol fight it out at the top of the leaderboard. Briar Hill from the team of Mullins and Ruby Walsh is a lot of people’s bankers for Friday in the Albert Bartlett while the Emerald Isle have three strong fancies in the Foxhunters – a race that the Irish have won four times in the last eight years.
Last Installment was a nine length winner of the Irish Hennessy and will have a fair few patriotic Euros on him in the Gold Cup. Guitar Pete and Tiger Roll will be fighting it out in the opening race of the day in the Triumph Hurdle, although Our Conor’s emphatic victory last year was Ireland’s first in this race for 12 years.
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