The Irish dominated the Festival last year and with the Prestbury Cup looking like it will go the way of Ireland once again this year, the horses that are trained in the Emerald Isle are a must in your Ten To Follow for both the Cheltenham mini-game and the main game’s transfer window.
As always, the bonus races are often a deciding factor in the Ten To Follow, so although it might be tempting to pick an outsider for one of the handicaps, your main base of your stable needs to focus on the seven bonus races.
With that in mind, here’s an Irish-themed Ten To Follow for the Festival….
Blue Lord (Arkle - Bonus Race)
Unbeaten over fences, Blue Lord will certainly give Edwardstone something to think about in the Arkle and given he’s already had Riviere D’etel, Haut En Couleurs and Saint Sam behind him this season, he’s the Irish horse for this. He, of course, fell at the last when second in the Supreme last year, so if he can stand up this time around, he should go close.
Honeysuckle (Champion Hurdle - Bonus Race)
This wonder mare needs no introduction. She has beaten all before in 14 starts on the racecourse, including two victories at the Festival in last year’s Champion Hurdle and the Mares’ Hurdle of 2020. On paper, only an act of God can stop her from defending his crown this time around and she’s got to be a banker for any TTF stable.
Chacun Pour Soi (Champion Chase - Bonus Race)
Energumene looked the winner until the furlong post against Shishkin in the Clarence House at Ascot last time, but was eventually out-stayed and that would be a concern for the re-match on a stiffer track in the Champion Chase.
Instead, Chacun Pour Soi is worth siding with to show his experience over slightly younger horses. He was a bit of hard luck story at Cheltenham last year, but Tote ambassador Danny Mullins is keen on his chances and that might just be worth following.
Galopin Des Champs (Festival Chase - Bonus Race)
It’s not been fully decided if Galopin Des Champs will head for what is now known as Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, but if he does, he’ll probably win it and if he doesn’t, then he might land the Turners instead which also ensure plenty of TTF points as a Grade One.
He’s looked every bit a machine since landed the Martin Pipe at the Festival last year, but has seriously impressed and improved for going chasing and he’s a Irish horse to have included, regardless of which race he turns up in.
Flooring Porter (Stayers’ Hurdle - Bonus Race)
It’s a division that has plenty of depth but no real superstar, so it’s no surprise that this race has thrown up plenty of surprises over the last few years. No horse has won back-to-back renewals of this race since the great Big Bucks, but based on what we’ve seen this season, Flooring Porter should have a chance.
He was unlucky to be beaten by what appeared to be a debatable start at the Dublin Racing Festival, so if he gets closer to Klassical Dream from the off at Cheltenham, we could be cheering on another Danny Mullins Festival winner.
Allaho (Ryanair - Bonus Race)
Watch last year’s Ryanair and don’t @ us.
A Plus Tard (Gold Cup - Bonus Race)
We were lucky enough to visit Henry De Bromhead’s yard ahead of Cheltenham Festival, and there was certainly plenty of confidence behind A Plus Tard. His performance in the Betfair Chase was arguably his best yet, and although it’s hard to get out of your head that he was outstayed by Minella Indo in the Gold Cup last season, the roles could well be reversed with Minella Indo not quite looking race sharp so far this season.
Sir Gerhard (Supreme/Ballymore)
A hat-trick of Cheveley Park horses here, but it’s hard to get away from their fantastic team of Jumps horses and Sir Gerhard looks to be one of their newest stars after winning the Champion Bumper last season.
He’s progressed again for going over hurdles and with the vibes from the Mullins camp suggesting he’s an absolute machine, he could take some stopping in whatever race he ends up in.
Facile Vega (Champion Bumper)
It might not be the most glamorous race of the Festival, but the Champion Bumper is a Grade One and that ensure plenty of points for finding the winner. Facile Vega has looked exactly that from what we’ve seen this season, and you get the impression that Willie Mullins thinks he’s a superstar.
It’s hard to disagree with that on what he showed at the Dublin Racing Festival, let's just hope he can live up to the big billing.
Tiger Roll (Cross Country)
The Cross Country won’t land you maximum TTF points with it not being a bonus race or a Grade One, but there’s arguably no more famous Irish horse still in training than Tiger Roll, so he has to come into your thinking.
Gordon Elliott has always managed to get him spot on for this and with so much made of him possibly retiring after the Festival, the dual Grand National champ, can have one more day in the sunshine.