12 months ago there was a sense of embarrassment when the Irish left Cheltenham with a record 23 winners from a possible 28, and there is plenty of hope the home side will put up a stronger defense severe this time.
Talks in the build up were of Great Britain winning the first three races with Constitution Hill (Supreme), Edwardstone (Arkle) and plenty of chances in the Ultima Handicap.
Even so, the Irish are a best-priced 1/12 with William Hill to clinch the Prestbury Cup, with Great Britain a 10/1 shot and the tie at 12/1.
The reality is that even with a strong start, the home team are extremely challenged by this and it’s hard not to expect another dominant Irish display as our hand on Thursday and Friday gets a bit light.
Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott bring over 100 horses between them and at the time of writing are currently responsible for 18 favourites.
This really doesn’t tell the whole story, because if you look closely at most races where the pair have strong hands, they also present the most likely dangers to the market leader in question.
It’s really hard to see how Britain can reach double digits and I expect a case of deja vu.
I predict the Irish will have close to 20+ winners again and for this reason I recommend backing the Irish -8.5 5/6 winners with Star Sports.
The battle to be the top coach looks like a straight shootout between Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott, with William Hill offering 1/2 on the former and 5/2 on the latter.
I’m not one to take very short prizes, but if I was, then Mullins would definitely get the call in this game.
It should be pretty tight between them, with both likely to register a lot of hits.
If, for whatever reason, one of them comes in with his team below par, the race to become the best coach can go both ways.
For this reason, it may be worth taking advantage of Sky Bet’s Combo Coaches Festival winners market.
They paired Mullins, Elliott and Henderson together and offer 5/6 the trio saddle 15 or more winners.
It seems like a mountain to climb, but the reality is that by working as a trio, they should reach that number with relative ease.
Remember, if the likes of Constitution Hill and Shishkin puff their lines for Henderson, it will be Mullins and Elliott who pick up the pieces and vice versa.
The trio are responsible for the top five bets in the Supreme, four of the top five in the Arkle and Champion Hurdle, not to mention the top two in the last two races.
The Irishman winner of the Prestbury Cup Handicap -8.5 winners 5/6 Star Sports
Mullins, Elliott and Henderson 15 or more winners 5/6 Sky Bet