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Will Ireland’s formidable team rule at the Cheltenham Festival?

The Irish look to have one of their strongest ever teams heading into the Cheltenham Festival, and Coral have opened a book on how many winners they will get in the 27 races over the four days.

Coral go 5/4 over 11 Irish-trained winners, 2/1 under 10 and 2/1 between 10-11.

Trainers from the Emerald Isle saddled a record breaking 14 winners out of the 27 races at the meeting last year, beating the previous best of 13 in 2011.

The winners were Champagne Fever, Hurricane Fly, Quevega, Back In Focus, Lord Windermere, Flaxen Flare, Briar Hill, Benefficient, Solwhit, Big Shu, Our Conor, Ted Veale, Salsify and Alderwood.

With the exception of Back In Focus, Salsify and Solwhit, they are all back to do battle again.

The Irish contingent also have the favourite for the World Hurdle in the shape of the unbeaten mare Annie Power, and seven of the top eight in the betting for the Champion bumper spearheaded by Willie Mullins’ highly-touted Black Hercules.

Mullins, who is 2/5 with Coral to top trainer at the Festival, also has leading contenders for the novice events in Vautour (Supreme), Champagne Fever (Arkle), Faugheen (Neptune), Ballycasey (RSA), Felix Yonger (JLT) and Briar Hill (Albert Bartlett).

The Irish also have the favourites for the National Hunt Chase and the Foxhunters’ Chase in Foxrock and On The Fringe, as well as a very strong representative in the handicaps.

With such a formidable looking squad it’s highly possible that a new record number of winners could be on the cards, however the stats suggest that under 10 winners is the most likely.

Since 2000, if taking out 2001 when the meeting was abandoned, they have averaged seven winners at each Festival.

That average rises to 9.6 when just taking the last five years into consideration. With this in mind 5/4 is great value.