Cheltenham Festival Odds: Who Will Be Top Trainer in 2023?
To say that we have a hot favourite for the leading trainer award with betting sites at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival would be something of an understatement.
Willie Mullins’ domination of National Hunt racing is such that he’s been top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival in each of the last four seasons and eight of the last 10 in all.
His stunning haul of 10 winners in 2022 is a record number from a single yard at the sport’s showcase meeting.
Mullins, who has trained more Cheltenham Festival winners than anyone else in the sport, is trading at 1/8 to annex the trainers’ prize yet again and it’s hard to see the Closutton maestro not justifying those hugely restrictive odds.
At the time of writing, Mullins is responsible for no less than eight ante-post festival favourites, including Gold Cup hot-pot Galopin Des Champs, many people’s idea of the banker of the entire meeting.
Mullins’ team of novices looks particularly strong and anyone looking to oppose him in the top trainer section is likely to be in trouble after the very first race of the meeting if Facile Vega bounces back from his surprise Dublin Racing Festival defeat.
So, can anyone challenge Mullins for the top trainer title at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival?
Cheltenham Top Trainer Odds
|Henry De Bromhead||25/1||Bet365|
The Elliott Challenge
The obvious starting point is Gordon Elliott, the only trainer to dethrone Willie Mullins in the last decade.
The Elliott team managed just two winners in 2022 but they return with a much stronger squad this time around.
The likes of Mighty Potter, Teahupoo, Gerri Colombe and Delta Work all have strong chances in their respective divisions, not least the last-named, who will be a warm order to win the Cross Country Chase for the second successive year.
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Given Elliott nearly always pitches in with at least one handicap winner during the week, it’s easy enough to see him hitting at least five winners.
Whilst that sort of total wouldn’t have troubled Mullins in 2022, it certainly would have in 2019 and 2021, so if Elliott’s fancied horses can strike, he might be able to make a fist of the top trainer battle, for all that it remains a tough task against the might of the Mullins battalions.
A Plus Tard Key For De Bromhead
Henry De Bromhead became the first trainer ever to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup all in the same year in 2021 but his squad looks nothing like as strong as in recent years, especially now that his star mare Honeysuckle appears to be on the downgrade.
A Plus Tard was a brilliant winner of the Gold Cup for the De Bromhead/Rachael Blackmore combination in 2022 but that horse has major questions to answer having not been seen since pulling up in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.
All in all, it’s difficult to see De Bromhead hitting the target enough times to justify those juicy 25/1 top trainer Cheltenham odds.
Best Of The British
Nicky Henderson has, by some distance, the strongest squad of the home brigade, indeed he - as good as - goes into the 2023 Cheltenham Festival with one winner already in the bag given most observers regard Constitution Hill as unbeatable in the Champion Hurdle.
Henderson has won or shared top prize in the trainer’s division nine times but hasn’t troubled the judge since bagging six winners in 2012.
The master of Seven Barrows has assembled a strong team for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival with the likes of Jonbon, Marie’s Rock, Epatante, Shishkin and Luccia all big runners in their respective contests.
If Jonbon could repel the challenge of Mullins’ El Fabiolo in the Sporting Life Arkle Chase then it’s entirely possible that Henderson could top the trainer rankings at the end of the first day.
However, Henderson is in a similar position to Gordon Elliott in that he probably needs all his big guns to win if he is to have any chance of bustling up the favourite in this market.
Paul Nicholls has trained 46 Cheltenham Festival winners and dominated the training ranks at this meeting from 2004 to 2009.
Remarkably, Nicholls’ didn’t have a single winner at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival but it will be a surprise if he doesn’t get on the board in 2023 given he has a handful of good chances, not least Hermes Allen, who is ante-post favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Nicholls could also cause something of a surprise in the festival’s blue-riband event because he appears to harbour significant confidence in the chances of King George Chase winner Bravemansgame in the Gold Cup.
However, the 13-time champion trainer just doesn’t have the strength in depth of horses for this meeting, primarily because he targets other meetings with so many of his horses throughout the season.
Top Trainer Verdict
The issue for anyone looking to play in the Cheltenham Festival Top Trainer market ahead of the meeting is that no betting apps are offering each-way betting (unsurprisingly).
Willie Mullins is the standout option and is impossible to oppose but Gordon Elliott would appeal as an each-way alternative at around 8/1 should the place section of the bet become available.
If you think Constitution Hill and Jonbon will both strike for Nicky Henderson on the opening day, there might be a small amount of scope to back him pre-racing and cash out that evening for a small profit.
Ultimately, though, the 2023 Cheltenham Festival looks set to be yet another Willie Mullins show.
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