One of the more popular and hard fought side bets at the Cheltenham Festival these days is the Prestbury Cup between Ireland and the UK. Which country will train the most winners over the four days used to be a forgone conclusion over the but slowly but surely the Irish have gotten a strangled-hold on the event and that means that the betting for the Cup this season is very tight indeed.
There is one man and one man only to consider before having a bet in this market and that is Willie Mullins. The Irish Champion Trainer has been racking up the Cheltenham winners left right and centre over the pat few years and he will once again cross the Irish Sea with a frighteningly strong team. Many are suggesting that he alone can pick up north of ten winners by himself and if he can do that, Ireland will be right in the mix to pick up the Cup this year.
North of ten winners is certainly a possibility for Willie Mullins given that he picked up eight last year and goes into this year's Festival with a whole host of short priced favourites once again.
Min, Douvan, Faugheen, Annie Power, Black Hercules, Un De Sceaux, Killultagh Vic, Vautour and Limini are all Mullins favourites for various races next month and if you throw in other Irish trained horses like Don Cossack, No More Heores and Josies Orders to name just a few, it is easy to see Ireland putting up a massive charge this season at a price of 7/4 with Paddy Power.
The UK managed to sneak home last season by claiming the Grand Annual when the scores were tied and the home team are ignored at their peril at Cheltenham. Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls may not be as strong as they once were but they have trained bundles of Festival winners in their careers and we should expect them to have one or two ace cards up their sleeves to play which means the UK remain favourites in the Prestbury Cup Betting.
One or two brave punters out there might also fancy the draw at 6/1 this year given the introduction of the new Mares Novices Hurdle race to bring the Festival schedule up to 28 this season. No surprises guessing who has the favourite for the new Mares race, a Mr William Mullins.