Irish Trainers dominate at 2018 Cheltenham Festival
Irish horses made Cheltenham their own once again and a final tally of 17 winners saw Irish trainers post the second highest tally ever at the Festival.
Gordon Elliott retained his leading trainer’s title with eight winners over the four days, edging out his great rival Willie Mullins who finished with seven. Elliott’s tally matches the record number of winners set by Mullins in 2015.
Davy Russell took the leading rider’s crown for the first time with four Cheltenham festival winners including a spectacular day three treble. He finished level with teenage star Jack Kennedy, who also finished with four winners but had fewer placed horses than Russell.
Paul Townend finished the week with two, the same tally as Ruby Walsh, the top rider at the Festival on 11 previous occasions, who was ruled out of the remainder of the Festival after his fall in the second race on Wednesday.
The 17 Irish-trained winners were spread across 11 different owners and four different trainers with Pat Kelly and Henry De Bromhead also training winners again this year. Half of the races (14) at this year’s Cheltenham Festival were won by Irish-bred horses.
In all it was another hugely successful festival for the travelling team and the Minister for Agriculture Food & Marine, with responsibility for the horse racing sector, Michael Creed TD, today hailed Ireland’s performance at the Cheltenham Festival.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Festival, the Minister said: “The securing of the Prestbury Cup marks the culmination of a fantastic week in Cheltenham for Irish owners, trainers and jockeys, with numerous individual, stable and team achievements. I’d like to convey my heartiest congratulations to all involved. I would like to pay particular tribute to leading trainer Gordon Elliott and leading jockey Davy Russell for their successes in what was a memorable week for Irish racing.”
Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “Once again, Irish trainers, owners and jockeys have had a week to remember at Cheltenham and I would like to congratulate all of those who enjoyed success including Gordon Elliott, Davy Russell and Gigginstown House Stud, winners of the leading trainer, jockey and owners’ titles. Indeed, it was truly remarkable to watch six Irish-trained winners on both Wednesday and Thursday.
“What has happened on the track this week merely underlines the current strength and quality of racing in Ireland; we had two memorable days at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in early February and I’d expect that the upcoming festivals at Fairyhouse and Punchestown will continue to showcase Irish National Hunt racing at its very best.”
Earlier in the day the Minister, accompanied by HRI Chairman Joe Keeling and HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh held a series of meetings with UK and Irish horse racing sector stakeholders specifically to discuss matters arising from the UK decision to leave the EU.