Some of this year’s biggest horse races are seeing record numbers of trainers entering their horses for a chance of winning some of the big prize pots on offer. Although a lot of the UK’s biggest horse races are still held in England, the increase in entries seems to be influenced by Irish trainers. Over the last five years, the sport has seen a big rise in popularity in the country with more and more people coming to watch and even get involved in the races. The attendance at Ireland’s race courses dipped slightly last year. But even with the bad weather the country experienced an average of over 3600 fans attended each race in the Irish Racing Calendar.
But it’s not just in Ireland where they’re seeing more Irish horses and trainers. Irish horses are now dominating many of the entries to some of England’s biggest races. Of the 78 entries for the Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month, over half of them are trained by Irish trainers. Amongst the 41 Irish trained horses are the highly competitive Bellshill, Yorkhill and A Toi Phil. The three horses are all part of the strong field of a possible 22 runners that have been entered by the world famous Irish trainer Willie Mullins.
Although trainers like Mullins are putting a lot of effort into every race, the one race that every trainer wants to win will always be the Grand National. If you’re going to put a Grand National bet on this year then it’s likely that you could end up putting money on an Irish horse to win the English race. This year’s race has received 126 possible entries, making it the biggest field of horses to choose from in 7 years. At the moment Coral have last year’s winner Many Clouds as favourite to win the race again in their Grand National bet market. But amongst the joint second favourites to win is Irish horses Goonyella and Don Poli who both have Grand National bet odds of 25/1. Although it’s yet to be decided which 40 of these 126 horses will actually start the race, it’s not too early to bet on who you think will win the race as Coral are already offering odds.
Even the headlining race of the Cheltenham Festival, the Gold Cup, is dominated with an Irish field of horses. Once again over half of the 32 entries for the Gold Cup are trained in Ireland. Just like the Novices’ Hurdle, 8 of the record breaking 18 Irish entries are trained by Willie Mullins, including some of the favourites Djakadam, Don Poli and Vautour. But although many of the favourites are from Ireland, only three Irish horses have won the race in the last 15 years so quantity doesn’t necessarily always mean quality.