Cheltenham Festival 2019: Irish horses all the rage as Equine Flu crisis puts British horses in the limelight

Cheltenham Festival 2019: Irish horses all the rage as Equine Flu crisis puts British horses in the limelight

February 12, 2019 0 By Today news

WITH Cheltenham Festival exactly a month away and a flu like cloud hovering over British racing, punters are latching onto Irish runners like the end is nigh.

Nicky Henderson today revealed many of his stable require a further vaccination and punters were quick to work out this could be the case for many big name trainers.

Plenty of Willie Mullins stars have been backed for Festival success
Plenty of Willie Mullins stars have been backed for Festival success
PA:Press Association

Trainers tend to vaccinate their horses either in the summer before the season starts, or in the New Year.

Those – such as Alan King and Paul Nicholls – that choose January will be unaffected by the new BHA ruling that states declared runners must have been treated in the last six months.

However, trainers such as Henderson, Olly Murphy, Lucinda Russell and many others look to have been hit badly by this.

Meanwhile, in Ireland it’s like none of this ever happened. Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins are licking their lips ahead of another demolition job at Prestbury Park.

Since the BHA announcement, Irish horses have been the most or second most backed in all four Championship races at the Festival in the last 24 hours.

In the feature Gold Cup, Presenting Percy has seen continued support in recent days and is the most popular bet across the Festival, according to Oddschecker.

Patrick Kelly’s eight-year-old has accrued 38% of all bets in the market, with Native River – the current second favourite – next in line.

Another Irish horse in the shape of Kemboy is the third most backed in the same time period with 9%. Finally, Willie Mullins’ Bellshill rounds off the as the fourth most popular punt in the Gold Cup with 8% of all bets.


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The Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle is the only race where a British-trained horse has been most backed. Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park remains the talk of the town there with over 60% of bets.

However, with news of Samcro a possibility in the Grade 1 combined with the ‘EI factor’, Gordon Elliot’s festival winner has also been popular.

The Irish seven-year-old is now 10-1 for the championship race and has accumulated 22% of bets in the last day.

It’s a similar story in the Champion Hurdle with stablemate Apple’s Jade accounting for 36% of all bets and endangering Buveur D’Air’s favouritism.

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