2020 Cheltenham Festival – Who’ll Be Top Trainer?
Another market that has become ever-popular in the build-up to the four-day 2020 Cheltenham Festival is which trainer will end up with the most winners?
The powerful Nicky Henderson team have fired in a staggering 64 Cheltenham Festival winners over the years and has ended up as top trainer 9 times since 1980. The Seven Barrows handler will again have a big army heading to Prestbury Park and is sure to have many supporters as his eyes top trainer title number ten.
We can expect the powerful Seven Barrows yard to have many more leading chances across the four days too so of the British yards he looks sure to come out on top. The betting pre-Cheltenham reflects this too as he’s around 7/2 in the 2020 Cheltenham Top Trainer betting market.
Did you know, at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival a staggering 21 of the 28 races were won by just five trainers? – Gordon Elliott (8), Willie Mullins (7), Nicky Henderson (2), Paul Nicholls (2), Colin Tizzard (2).
However, in 2019 the spread of winners was shared out much more with 16 different yards grabbig wins in one of the 28 races.
It looks a three-horse race!
Like in recent years - It would be one of the biggest shocks in recent Cheltenham Festival history is one of Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson or Gordon Elliott doesn’t end the four days as top trainer.
The betting suggests this too with Mullins and Elliott both around 7/4, with Henderson 7/2 and Henry de Bromhead next best at around 10/1.
This is great news for punters though as this is one of the tightest ‘Cheltenham Top Trainer’ markets for some time.
12 months ago it was Willie Mullins, who has had 65 Festival winners in total, that started the meeting in fine style with wins in the opening two races – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Arkle Novices’ Chase – two wins that were responsible for the four Mullins wins in 2019 and that coupled with many placed finishes were enough to see Mullins win the top trainers’ title – and that was his sixth in total.
So - Can Mullins Follow-up?
In short, I think he can. Unlike some of the recent years there are probably not as many so-called Festival bankers lurking around so the big three yards will probably have to rely on a few handicap successes too if they want to bag the top trainer prize.
However, Mullins just edges it for me still. He’s likely to have a good chance with Benie Des Dieux and is always well represented in the Champion Bumper. He’s also got a strong hand in the Gold Cup with last year’s winner – Al Boum Photo and Kemboy.
Gordon Elliott will have Envoi Allen and Tiger Roll as his bankers and if both go in then he’s sure to push Mullins all the way. Like Mullins his going to be well-represented in most of the big handicaps too and with a bit of luck in those races too then at least 3-5 winners looks doable.
Henderson, who has had 64 Festival winners in total, is certainly not out of it either. He sent out 4 winners last year at the Festival and only lost out to Mullins on countback of placed horses. Altior and Champ look to be two of his leading hopes, while he’s also got the current Champion Hurdle favourite in Epatante.
Best Of The Rest……………………………
Paul Nicholls dominated this market between 2004 and 2009 – winning the trainers’ title five times but it’s a bit of a ‘changing of the guard’ at Ditcheat at the moment and the days of Denman, Kauto Star and Master Minded seem a long way off at the moment. He had just the two winners in both 2018 and 2019. Yes, he’s sure to fire in a few winners again, maybe in the Fred Winter that he’s done well in in recent years. However, as mentioned, does lack any with the ‘banker’ tag so it’s hard seeing him or any or the other yards outside the main three being top trainer at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. Nicholls is around 33/1.
Henry de Bromhead is the fourth best in the betting at around 10/1. He fired in two winners at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival but even though you feel he’s sure to get on the scoresheet at some point, he might just lack the firepower of the main three.
Colin Tizzard at 33/1 is next best, but he also falls into the de Bromhead category of having some nice chances but just not enough so-called ‘good things’. Trainers Dan Skelton and Joseph O’Brien both sent out two winners each at the 2019 Festivals and are others to have on your radar if you are looking for an upset of a bit more value in this market.
BEST BET: WILLIE MULLINS TO BE TOP TRAINER
Winners Of The Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award
2019 Willie Mullins (4)
2018 Gordon Elliott (8)
2017 Gordon Elliott IRE (6)
2016 Willie Mullins IRE (7)
2015 Willie Mullins IRE (8)
2014 Willie Mullins IRE (4)
2013 Willie Mullins IRE (5)
2012 Nicky Henderson (7)
2011 Willie Mullins IRE (4)
2010 Nicky Henderson (3)
2009 Paul Nicholls (5)
2008 Paul Nicholls (3)
2007 Paul Nicholls (4)
2006 Paul Nicholls (3)
2005 Howard Johnson (3)
2004 Paul Nicholls (4)
2003 Jonjo O’Neill (3)
2002 Martin Pipe (3)
2000 Nicky Henderson (4)
1999 Paul Nicholls (3)
The most successful current trainers at The Cheltenham Festival
65 Willie Mullins
64 Nicky Henderson
45 Paul Nicholls
26 Jonjo O'Neill
25 Gordon Elliott
20 Philip Hobbs
17 Nigel Twiston-Davies
15 Alan King
15 David Pipe