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Cheltenham Festival: Prestbury Cup - Britain aiming to thwart Irish party

British trainers will be trying to wrestle back the Prestbury Cup from Ireland for the first time since 2015 at the Cheltenham Festival next week.

It has been an unprecedented era of domination for Ireland in recent times and they are strong favourites to hold sway again at 1/12, while a British win is priced at 10/1 and the overall tie is 12/1.

With 28 races across four days from Tuesday 14th March until Friday 17th March, each nation needs to get to 15 winners to win the Prestbury Cup. 

Every race from the Cheltenham Festival can be viewed via the bet365 Sports Live Streaming Service and here's our look at the race for the Prestbury Cup.

Rough times for the home team

Britain last tasted Prestbury Cup success in 2015, outpointing Ireland by a single winner with 14-13 as a lone French winner helped to split them.

Since then however, the Irish have enjoyed unprecedented success, triumphing in six of the last seven years, with a 14-14 draw in 2019 the only minor high point for the host nation.

The balance of power in National Hunt racing is very much with Ireland at this point, largely owing to the powerhouse yards of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott. That duo have dominated at this meeting, sharing the top trainer award for a decade, with Mullins 1/8 to triumph this year and Elliott priced at 8/1.

The nadir for Britain's training ranks came in 2021 when they were on the end of the fabled 'greenwash' as Ireland enjoyed a landslide 23-5 win in the Prestbury Cup.

Last year's 18-10 scoreline was an improvement and, like all things in sport, such dominance will in time prove cyclical and the balance will tilt once more towards the hosts - can it be this year?

Fast start expected for Britain 

Those backing a 'home win' at 10/1 will be keen to see things go well on day one and it's a distinct possibility.

The Irish have a strong team in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle but Paul Nicholls seems quite sweet on the hopes of Grade 1 winner Tahmuras at 10/1 for the Festival curtain-raiser.

Next off is the Arkle where Jonbon is 7/4 to continue his unbeaten sequence over fences for Nicky Henderson. After that comes the Ultima, a race Britain has won every single year since 2006 and then it's more Seven Barrows superstardom as 1/3 Constitution Hill bids for Champion Hurdle glory in the feature race. The UK could easily lead 3-1 by then, if not a clean sweep.

Later, Love Envoi is bidding to make it 2-2 at this Festival for Harry Fry by winning the Mares' Hurdle at odds of 6/1 - she's unbeaten this season.

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Nicholls to kick-start day two challenge

Onto Wednesday and it will once more be upon Britain's champion trainer to lead the side out as Hermes Allen is 3/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle. He looked awesome in his Challow win at Christmas and, again, Nicholls has been making all the right noises.

Philip Hobbs has Thyme Hill at 11/2 for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase on the Wednesday, he's already a Grade 1-winning novice this season at the three-mile trip and has form at this meeting.

In the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the day two feature, Editeur Du Gite (13/2) and Edwardstone (15/8) both finished ahead of defending champion Energumene (2/1) when they met in the Clarence House in January. They'll be hoping to steal away his crown now for Gary Moore and Alan King respectively and the Willie Mullins inmate certainly looks fallible after that setback.

The Grand Annual is another race that Britain tends to fare strongly in, though either side of that the Cross Country Chase and Champion Bumper may favour Ireland.

Shishkin headlines on day three

That man Nicky Henderson will have a key role to play come Thursday as 4/5 Shishkin bids for glory in the Ryanair Chase following his roaring return to form at Ascot last time.

The Seven Barrows chief, the second-most successful trainer of all time at this meeting, also has Luccia at 7/4 for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle on day three.

Henderson also seems like he's settling on sending 9/2 Marie's Rock to take on the boys in the Stayers' Hurdle and the course specialist seems sure to give the boys from Ireland – Blazing Khal, Teahupoo, Flooring Porter et al - a real run for their money.

Bravemans call could be key on final day

The final day starts with the Triumph Hurdle, where 7/4 Lossiemouth and 15/8 Blood Destiny give Ireland a double-handful and the race looks sure to the way of the green on St Patrick's Day in the Cotswolds.

Afterwards however, tough races like the County Hurdle, the Albert Bartlett and St James's Place Foxhunters will give Britain a chance to strike back.

The main dish has 13/8 Galopin Des Champs favourite to make it five straight Gold Cups wins for Ireland, but could King George winner Bravemansgame at 8/1 strike a crucial winner for Britain in the Festival's centrepiece? Trainer Paul Nicholls and rider Harry Cobden are voicing confidence and they'll be ready for a major challenge.

Ireland have plenty aces up their sleeves in the battle for Prestbury Cup supremacy but there's no shortage of wildcards on the British side this year and it could be a closer race than many pundits are predicting. 

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