The Cheltenham Festival is now just a few months away, and the Racing Post’s Upping the Ante team have continued their weekly analysis of each event.

Irish horses, jockeys and trainers had a stunning performance at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, beating their British counterparts in a huge range of races – with later Grand National champion Rachael Blackmore winning six races, including the Novices Hurdle on Bob Ollinger.

This week saw David Jenning and Gavin Lynch evaluate the racecard for the Turners’ Novices Chase, with Lynch predicitng a strong perforofrmance once again for the iIrish bred and trained Ollinger.

“Bob Ollinger – it all circulates around him”, Lynch emphasised. “He was brilliant in the Ballymore, his Chase debut in Gorm Park was good, he made one or two mistakes and not everyone was delighted with him but I’d give him at least an eight out of 10.

“The race revolves around him. He’s hopefully going to run at Punchestown this Sunday, it’s a graded two and a half mile novice chase, so all eyes will be one whether he’s entered.”

He continued: “We know that Bob Ollinger is a brilliant horse, we’ve seen him last year and what he did at Ballymore. You don’t need to necessarily analyse Gorum Park, it’s if he’s fit and well and there will be a lot of people watching him on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, after acknowledging that the pair – both being proud Irishmen – often don’t give the British home team ‘as much credit as deserved’ at events such as Cheltenham, DJ brought up the chances of 8/1 fourth favourite L’homme Presse.

“I think 8/1 is about the right price,” Lynch replired, adding: “He looks really good – is he up to beating a horse like Bob Ollinger? I’m not so sure, but he is guaranteed to be there turning in, and if you want to  L’homme Presse back each way I wouldn’t stop you.” 

Last year’s festival was a bumper event for the betting sector, with Oddschecker’;s report of trends during the 2021 Cheltenham Festival revealing positive results for numerous operators with bet365 heading the betslip leaderboard.

Denise Coates’ operator recorded the largest share of betslip clicks on the odds comparison website throughout the four-day festival at 19.4%, whilst Flutter Entertainment’s Paddy Power and Sky Bet finished second and third with 13.1% and 12% respectively.

The popularity of the festival has prompted The Jockey Club to consider expanding the format of the flour day event to five days by 2023, after observing that a younger audience was in attendance at the five-day Royal Ascot meeting in June 2021.

Upping the Ante: Irish horses set to dominate at Cheltenham once again