“Never mind last year’s drubbing, lads. We’ll smash them this year!”
War cries don’t get more powerful than a desperate attempt to forgive and forget, which is why the British are in luck at the next edition of the Cheltenham Festival.
With 2021 fresh in the minds of the trainers and jockeys, there’s no doubt the UK will reign supreme in 2022. No, wait; that’s utter nonsense. The wheels are already swinging into motion to ensure the Irish do nothing different and continue to dominate. After all, it wouldn’t be Cheltenham without the same demoralizing traditions.
Irish Gold Cup
When will the Cheltenham Gold Cup be renamed the Irish Gold Cup? Sure, it will cause all sorts of confusion, but we’ve got to be realistic about these things. When a country dominates so much, it’s only fair to rename the race so that punters understand the uphill task facing Great Britain. The horse racing betting odds couldn’t paint a prettier picture for the supporters across the Irish Sea since the Paddy Power fast horse racing results show three of the top five favourites in prolific form, hence why they are 6/1, 12/1, and 16/1.
What’s that? Of course, they’re from Ireland. Don’t be silly! Indeed, Ireland’s very own Rachael Blackmore, last year’s heroine of the Cheltenham Festival, has jumped ship and is aboard the French A Plus Tard. The Irish are confident to the point where their best jockey is giving another country an opportunity at Gold Cup success.
Meanwhile, back in Blighty, our best hope is called Santini and is a decent 50/1 shot behind the likes of The Big Breakaway and Royal Pagaille. No, we’ve never heard of them either. So, it might be better off not to get your hopes up when March 18th rolls around.
If you can’t beat them, then join them. That appears to be the motto of several GB trainers who have decided they’ve had enough of being embarrassed on home ground year after year. In possibly the shallowest show of faith in the sport, the likes of Dan Skelton and Nicky Henderson are training horses for the other side.
Forget that Shishkin is the 6/4 favourite for the Champion Chase or that Appreciate It is the 5/2 favourite for the Arkle Chase because these fellas want to stick the boot in. Third Time Lucki is one of the most talented horses at the entire festival, and if it upsets Appreciate It, it’ll go down as another Irish winner. The same goes for Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House.
These boys have no shame, but at least they’ll end up on the winning side. And when the history books are written, that’s all that matters.
With very little for British fans to cheer about, it’s all about the small mercies. The silver linings that gloss over the hurt and heartbreak and make us feel better. Thankfully, Cheltenham is packed with them, so you don’t have to search far.
Number one on the list is Honeysuckle. She is trained by Henry De Bromhead, which gives her Irish roots, but she’s owned by a Great British syndicate, which means she’ll go down as a British winner. Considering that she’s almost impossible to beat, we should be excited about her prospects. Then there’s Frodon. Trained by Paul Nicholls, Frodon is classed as a French horse, but Nicholls is about as English as they come.
Plus, he just beat Minella Indo in the Down Royal Champion Chase, so Frodon may be in with a shout of claiming the Irish Gold Cup at 25/1. Sorry, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
We would recommend burning effigies and praying to pagan gods, but we’ve been there before. All that’s left is to accept our fate. The Irish are coming to the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, and they can’t be stopped.