CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2023: Current trainer form
The biggest event in the national hunt campaign is nearly upon us and with that, the betting for the leading trainer 2023 is well underway. The racing experts at BestofBets have looked at each candidate to find out who’s most likely to bring home the Cheltenham Top Trainer Award.
Historically, this prestigious award has been fought out between Irelands most recognised trainers; namely, Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott. However, looking at this year’s field and it’s set to be a lot more competitive.
Whether you will be attending Prestbury Park throughout the week or watching the dramatic action from the comfort of your home, many of you will have varying opinions on any of the 28 races during the Cheltenham Festival.
We all know a fiend for the form book or someone who relies on trainer comments to formulate fancies, but yard form is something that is key to the chances of any horse at the four-day action-packed party.
Therefore, we will be sharing with you the hottest and coldest trainers heading into jump racing’s Olympics.
Before we start, both Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls are in flying form and have obvious claims, but they are not included on the list to try and highlight the chances of other trainers.
Operating at an 18% strike rate from 34 runners, the Gavin Cromwell yard has been in good form over the last two weeks, a period that has included two winners this weekend.
The County Meath stable have won the last two renewals of the Stayers’ Hurdle with Flooring Porter and the eight-year-old is looking to do the same and make it a hat-trick this year.
With a eight-horse string team, hopefully Cromwell’s strong form around Cheltenham (5/31) can continue to help propel his squad to success next week.
Moving onto David Pipe, the legendary trainer has sent out as many winners as Cromwell over the last two weeks (six), however, they have come from seven fewer runners (27).
Unfortunately for Pipe, his last Cheltenham Festival winner came in the 2017 Ultima Handicap Chase thanks to Un Temps Pour Tout, but the son of Martin Pipe could have up to eight runners this year.
With the yard currently flying high on 68 victories this campaign – his highest winners total since the 2015/16 season – hopefully the Grand National-winning trainer can make a welcomed return back to the famous winner’s enclosure.
We couldn’t end this section without mentioning the trainer trying to chase down Willie Mullins at this year’s Festival, and that’s Gordon Elliott.
Operating out of Cullentra House, Elliott has 161 individual entries at this year’s Festival, though many are entered for multiple races.
A hat-trick on the weekend for the former trainer of Festival legend Tiger Roll brought his fortnightly total up to 10 winners from 50 runners and with the greatest four days on turf just around the corner, it’s almost guaranteed that his horses will be cherry-ripe for Gloucestershire’s grandest event.
Moving on to the trainers who could be on a better run of form, Jessica Harrington, trainer of the 2017 Champion Hurdle winner Jezki, is 0-25 over the jumps and has yet to pick up a winner in 75 days.
Having only trained three winners this campaign in Ireland from 84 runners (4% strike rate), Harrington is way below her season high total of the last decade (51) that was achieved in both 2016/17 and 2018/19.
The County Kildare operator has no horses entered between now and the Leinster National on Saturday and she could have a maximum of five horses running at the Festival, a team that includes Stayers’ Hurdle contender Ashdale Bob.
Henry de Bromhead
This may come as a little bit of a surprise, but the reigning Gold Cup-winning trainer has been a bit of an absentee to the winner’s enclosure recently.
Having won the blue-ribboned event the last two years thanks to Minella Indo and A Plus Tard, Henry de Bromhead has yet to train a winner in the last 15 days from 15 runners.
The County Waterford-based operator looks to be well represented this year thanks to the two previously mentioned horses, Honeysuckle, Envoi Allen, and Hiddenvalley Lake to name just a few, however, a change up in fortune would be well received ahead of the curtain raising Supreme Novices’ Hurdle next week.
And finally, bringing it back to the British, a change in luck would seemingly be well received for Venetia Williams over the next week as she has trained only 1 winner from her last 20 runners.
On the big stage, the Kings Caple-based trainer has been fairly useful, having picked up the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February with Funambule Sivola, a Champion Chase competitor this year.
Holding entries in Gold Cup, Ryanair, and many handicap, a 5% strike rate from the last two weeks would have to be a small concern heading into the Festival.