Cheltenham Festival fever is in the air and punters up and down the country will have already studied the form guides with a fine-tooth comb in order to make the right selections ahead of the four-day meeting. Of course, one of the first things that people look out for when picking their horses is their trusty trainers, and when it comes to the Prestbury Park spectacle, there are many that are hard to look past.
So, without further ado, let’s delve into the archives and hunt out the Festival’s most successful trainers. It might even help you with your selections if you’ve left them late! Read on to find out more.
Willie Mullins – 1995 – present – 72 winners
When it comes to the Festival’s biggest races, few would look past those trained by Willie Mullins. The Irish trainer has become ‘Mr. Reliable’ for the punters in the last decade or so and has even taken home the top trainer award on seven of the last 10 occasions. The Champion Bumper is where Mullins has tasted the most glory with 10 victories. However, despite his success, Mullins didn’t win the Gold Cup until 2019, when Al Boum Photo triumphed for the first time, and he is still waiting for his first winner in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He’ll be hoping that Chacun Pour Soi, who is the favourite for the day two feature in the Cheltenham races betting, can end that drought this year.
Nicky Henderson – 1985 – present – 68 winners
Nicky Henderson was the Festival’s top dog before Mullins’ surge to the top of the sport. The 70-year-old has been awarded the Leading Trainer accolade on three occasions and has pretty much won it all when it comes to the iconic Prestbury Park meeting. Henderson has enjoyed the most success in the Champion Hurdle with Epatante’s victory last year taking him to an impressive eight triumphs in the Grade 1 race, whilst the likes of Bobs Worth, Altior and Sprinter Sacre have each brought him success in various races, including the Queen Mother, the Arkle and the Gold Cup. Henderson pulled level with Mullins at last year’s Festival. However, a fantastic final day saw the Irishman pull four winners clear.
Paul Nicholls – 1999 – present – 46 winners
Between 1999 and 2009, Paul Nicholls was unstoppable. The Englishman won six Leading Trainer awards in those 10 years, not counting 2001 as the Festival was cancelled, but in more recent times he has been left behind somewhat by Henderson and Mullins. Still, his 46 winners, which include an impressive four Gold Cups and six Queen Mothers, are not to be sniffed at, and at this year’s Festival he will be hoping that Frodon, who is 14/1 in the Gold Cup Non Runner Money Back market, can end his 13-year dry spell in the showpiece race. The 1999 Festival was perhaps the most notable of Nicholls’ career thus far. He swept up in the Queen Mother, the Arkle and the Gold Cup.
Gordon Elliott (31 winners) has had his fair share of success since switching riding for training almost 15 years ago, and if the two-time Leading Trainer keeps racking up winners the way he has in recent years, it won’t be long before he climbs further up the leaderboard and takes over Nicholls and closes the gap on Henderson and Mullins.