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Insulting price about Irish success

Bruce Jackson sides with the raiders at this year's meeting

Ireland's Britain's Betbright Cup captain Hector O hEochagain (left) may well put one over his British counterpart Phil Tufnell (right) after the pair's roles were announced by Rich Ricci (centre)
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It is hard to fathom how bookmakers make Ireland a general 9-2 –11-2 best with William Hill – to retain the Betbright Prestbury Cup by sending out more winners than their British rivals at the Cheltenham Festival.

Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott are favourite and third favourite to be top trainer and there is a record Irish entry this year.

Again, this looks an overreaction to the fact that some Mullins stars missing, while it also appears an underestimation of Elliott's potential contribution.

If ever there were a case of 10-11 each of two surely this is it after the score ended 14-14 after four days last year. (The later disqualification of Any Currency in favour of Josies Orders in the cross-country chase handed the cup to Ireland 15-13.)

Just how confused the bookmakers are is perhaps evident in Hills's 11-2 Ireland winning the cup while also going 3-1 an Irish winning total of 15 or more, with 11-14 successes at 8-13.

'Indications are it will be close again'

Like all golf's good Ryder Cups this contest has gone to the wire since its introduction in 2014, prompted by Ireland having more winners at the festival for the first time in 2013, taking the silverware 14-13.

Britain won 15-12 in 2014, but it was 14-13 in 2015 before 28 races last year allowed for the possible third result of a tie.

All indications are that it will be close again and 7-1 the tie with 32Red is a saver to supplement a plunge on Ireland.

The going description at the start of the meeting is also getting plenty of coverage, but in this case the odds-on favourite good to soft looks unopposable.

Heavy rain around Britain has seen backing – or bookmaker shortening of the odds – for soft being the day one description. Soft is in to 7-2 from as big as 6-1 midweek as good drifts to 6-1. 

On Sunday, after 8mm of rain over the weekend, the Old course, on which the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle opens the festival, remained good to soft with not even a soft in places.

With an unsettled forecast but no torrential rain in the offing favourite-backers are starting to form an orderly queue.

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