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Top Trainer - Cheltenham Festival - The Contenders

Willie Mullins is the talk of the town for the upcoming festival. Can anyone take his 'Top Trainer' title?

Excitement for the Cheltenham Festival is spreading far and wide across Britain and Ireland, with the 'greatest show on turf' quickly approaching. This event stands as the pinnacle of anticipation in the National Hunt calendar, and the Cotswolds celebration consistently delivers memorable moments. As we gear up for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, set to enchant us from Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th March, we're diving into the profiles of key contenders and exploring their chances to emerge as the Top Trainer. Every thrilling race of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival will be available for live viewing through the bet365 live Sports Streaming Service. Plus, we're excited to offer daily Cheltenham tips to enhance your Festival experience.

Top Trainer Odds & Insight

Willie Mullins - 1/12

The prowess of the 'Mullins Machine' has reached such heights that many see the Top Trainer award at the Cheltenham Festival as nearly a certainty for the Closutton wizard. Mullins, with an impressive 94 Cheltenham Festival victories to his name, is on the cusp of an historic milestone, and few would bet against him breaking the 100-win mark this year.

The odds are a testament to Mullins' dominance; he's favored at 4/5 to outperform all British trainers combined over the festival's four days. This is compared to 2/1 for Great Britain leading in the same category, and 11/2 for a tie, illustrating just how formidable a contender Mullins is.

Having secured the Top Trainer title for five consecutive years and in nine out of the last eleven, with only Gordon Elliott interrupting his streak in 2017 and 2018, Mullins' track record is nothing short of spectacular. With stars like Ballyburn, State Man, Lossiemouth, El Fabiolo, Fact To File, Galopin Des Champs, and Dinoblue, all heavily favored in their respective races, this year could further cement Mullins' legendary status at Cheltenham.

Mullins' Cheltenham triumphs include a notable 10 wins in 2022, standing out against his already impressive performance in previous years. This achievement marked a historic moment as the only instance of reaching a double-figure tally, showcasing his unparalleled success at the Festival. Those considering betting against this racing titan will find odds of 4/6 for under 10 total Willie Mullins winners and 11/10 for under 9, highlighting the challenge of competing with such a dominant force in the field.

Gordon Elliot - 6/1

In the lead-up to Cheltenham, Elliott offered a reflective perspective on Mullins' supremacy, acknowledging, "We definitely haven't made him better, but we're making him hungrier, and he's making us better." This insight from Elliott, a formidable force in his own right and a consistent contender behind Mullins in Ireland, underscores the competitive dynamic that propels them both to greater heights.

Elliott, steering the Cullentra operation, boasts a roster of strong contenders poised to enhance his 37-win tally at this prestigious event. His lineup includes Firefox, a promising bet at 6/1 in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle; Found A Fifty, poised at 9/2 in the Arkle; and the two-time Cross Country champion, Delta Work, entering at 10/3. Additionally, Gerri Colombe, at 10/1 for the Gold Cup, faces the challenge of outpacing Galopin Des Champs after a tough contest at Christmas. Elliott also holds high expectations for Brighterdaysahead, a leading candidate in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at 7/4.

With multiple entries across the nine Festival handicaps, Elliott's arsenal suggests he could, indeed, present a formidable challenge to Mullins' reign. Furthermore, Elliott is the favorite at 8/13 in the "Top Trainer without Willie Mullins" market, highlighting his significant impact and potential to shine at Cheltenham.

Nicky Henderson - 16/1

The legendary Master of Seven Barrows, second only to Mullins on the all-time list, stands as Britain's premier Festival trainer, boasting an impressive tally of 73 wins across four decades. Such a storied career has seen few moments as startling as the recent pre-Cheltenham developments with Constitution Hill. The unbeaten Champion Hurdler's lackluster workout at Kempton, just two weeks before the Festival, led to the discovery of an infection, casting an unexpected shadow over his preparation. Now, under the intense focus of the racing community, there's a race against time to ensure the jump racing superstar is ready for the 12th of March. Despite the challenges, Constitution Hill remains a favorite at 8/15 NRNB to continue his unbeaten run in the Champion Hurdle, though questions linger due to his limited season appearances.

Beyond this, Henderson looks to enhance his already stellar Triumph Hurdle record with Sir Gino, dubbed 'Britain's Banker,' at 4/6. Meanwhile, the intriguing Shishkin stands at 7/1 to secure a victory in the Gold Cup, and Jonbon is favored at 10/3 to overcome his previous Cheltenham Festival setbacks by clinching the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Despite a challenging run-up to the Festival, Henderson's team should not be underestimated. With a history of excellence and resilience, they are well-positioned to display their prowess and unity when it matters most, solidifying their status at the pinnacle of the racing season.

Henry de Bromhead - 100/1

Henry de Bromhead's position in the Cheltenham Festival's top trainer odds may seem like a long shot at 100/1, and even without Willie Mullins in the equation, he's at 10/1, reflecting the towering challenge presented by the sheer might of Mullins and Elliott. Yet, the competition's dynamics don't fully encapsulate de Bromhead's potential for impact. With a record that speaks to strategic excellence and standout moments at the Festival, his presence is far from negligible.

Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton, with odds of 100/1 and 150/1 respectively, face their own battles against the formidable Irish duo, each managing smaller squads with their own set of challenges. Gavin Cromwell, though priced more favorably at 66/1, similarly grapples with the task of matching the top contenders' depth and success rates.

Amid this competitive landscape, de Bromhead's stable houses promising talents capable of making waves. Envoi Allen, at 4/1, is set to defend his Ryanair Chase title, and Minella Indo, a former Gold Cup champion, is eyed at 15/8 for the Cross Country Chase, signaling de Bromhead's readiness to contest the top ranks. Additionally, Monty's Star and Slade Steel are positioned as strong contenders in their respective races, with Quilixios, a past Festival winner, also in fine form for the Arkle at 10/1.

While the odds suggest a steep hill to climb for de Bromhead to overtake Mullins, his 10/1 standing in the market excluding Mullins offers a glimpse into the potential for making a significant impact. With a lineup that balances experience and emerging talent, de Bromhead's team may yet leave a mark on this year's Festival, challenging the expectations set by the betting odds.