Elliott 5/4 favourite to retain Cheltenham trainers’ crown

Updated: 28/02/2024

Gordon Elliott heads the betting to be the Cheltenham Festival’s leading trainer, ahead of Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins.

Gordon Elliott was crowned leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival last March for the second time in his career.

The one safe assumption at this point is to suggest it won’t be the last time the Cullentra handler takes that mantle.

Elliott is the 5/4 favourite with Betfred to train the most winners over the four-day extravaganza in the Cotswolds this time around.

A scan of the races shows that he has just two market leaders in the betting, excluding the handicaps. Of course, he will be very dangerous in such races and Elliott’s strength is the depth to his team.

He’ll run more horses at the Cheltenham Festival than any other trainer and will, in all probability, see some unfancied charges hitting the target.

With 14 winners across the previous two Festivals, it is not hard to see why Elliott is the standout candidate.

It is not so long ago that Willie Mullins was routinely the odds-on favourite in this market but the Closutton maestro is now as big as 7/2 to be leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival.

Is that too big? Mullins had taken this gong in five of the six years before Elliott pipped him in 2017.

It has been a relatively quiet season for Ireland’s champion trainer but underestimating him could be a mistake. He has favourites in both the mares’ races and looks like launching a four-pronged assault on winning his first Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Nicky Henderson is the 7/4 second-favourite to be top trainer at the meeting for the first time 2012. The Seven Barrows maestro has Altior, likely the shortest priced favourite of the week in the Queen Mother Champion Chase amongst his leading contenders.

Buveur D’Air on the other hand looks vulnerable in his attempt to win a third Champion Hurdle crown. Like Elliott, Henderson will be throwing plenty of darts at the board over the four days and he currently has six favourites in the betting (excluding the handicaps).

Since 2006, just four men have been crowned leading trainer – Elliott, Mullins, Henderson and Paul Nicholls.

The Ditcheat handler is rattling in winners this season and a good Cheltenham could well see him on his way to reclaiming the trainer’s championship from Henderson in Britain.

Nicholls once more has that bullishness about him that characterised his era of domination when Kauto Star, Big Buck’s, Denman and Master Minded roamed. He has a leading player in the Gold Cup with Clan Des Obeaux and, at 16/1, Nicholls is the lively outsider amongst the quartet from which the Cheltenham Festival leading trainer will surely come.

Odds subject to change.

This post first appeared here

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