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Cheltenham Festival leading trainer: The Contenders
16 Feb 2017 | Oddschecker.com 

Willie Mullins (8/13) will be in search of his fifth consecutive Leading Trainer award at this year’s Festival and across the four days he has the favourite or joint favourite in eight different races. Of those, five are clear favourites with Douvan the shortest price at 1/3 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the second day.

Also at the top of his market is the much-hyped Melon who is best-priced 4/1 to give the County Carlow maestro a fourth win in the last five runnings of the Supreme Novices Hurdle. In the Champion Bumper Carter McKay is 4/1 for a race in which the trainer is again mob-handed after running seven in last year’s race and occupying 2nd, 3rd and 4th as well as 7th with favourite Augusta Kate.

Later in the week Airlie Beach is the 11/4 jolly for the Mares Novice Hurdle where again Mullins has a stranglehold on the market. As well as the fav he also has Let’s Dance (4/1), Augusta Kate (8/1) and Asthuria (10/1) all in the top five of the ante-post offerings.

In the Ryanair Chase Un De Sceaux is now clear favourite with all bookies following the news Cue Card has been scratched from the race and will go for the Gold Cup and in the Martin Pipe both Battleford and Chacun Pour Soi lead the market at 10/1.

The two races and one horse that could be the key are The Champion Hurdle and JLT where Yorkhill is vying for favouritism for both races. Even more importantly, his market rivals in both races are trained by Mullins' market rival Nicky Henderson (5/1) who himself has five runners who are either favourite or joint favourite over the four days.

If Mullins were to run Yorkhill in the Champion Hurdle, that would leave Henderson’s Top Notch at the top of affairs whilst if the JLT were to be the choice then Buveur Dair would be the market principle.

Either way, Mullins’s success could depend on whether Yorkhill is victorious in his chosen race as if the markets are correct Henderson has a real shot at landing the award he last won in 2012.

Altior looks a potential superstar in the making and is surely a banker in the Arkle and is 1/3, whilst Might Bite has been impressive in his own right this season and is a clear 7/2 favourite for the RSA. Of the rest, as mentioned either Buveur Dair (7/2) or Top Notch (5/1) will have Yorkhill to contend with in their respective races and Premier Bond tops the market at 12/1 with one firm for the Kim Muir on the Thursday.

Other trainers in with a shout of the top prize are Colin Tizzard (25/1) who has two favourites but in all likelihood lacks the strength in depth to challenge across the week. Gordon Elliott (6/1) will send over a mighty battalion of horses and has to be feared in the big handicaps as well as the novice races and has two favourites in the ante-post markets. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is a big price at 16/1 but has only one current favourite and has enjoyed just eight winners from the last four Festivals.

Trainer

Number of Favourites

Odds to be Leading trainer

Mullins

8

8/13

Henderson

5

5/1

Tizzard

3

25/1

Elliott

2

6/1

Nicholls

1

16/1



 
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