Punters place their faith in Irish aces Elliott and Mullins
A feature of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival has been the remarkable success enjoyed by Irish trainers and punters have placed their faith in the powerhouse yards of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins on Gold Cup day.
Elliott's Death Duty, available at 5-2 this morning, has been backed into 15-8 to extend his unbeaten hurdling record in the Albert Bartlett, while Mullins' dual Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam is a rock-solid 3-1 favourite (from 7-2) to land the meeting's feature prize at the third attempt.
Colin Tizzard's 27 runners in the past fortnight have all been beaten - although Fox Norton went close in Wednesday's Champion Chase - and punters appear lukewarm about his Gold Cup pair of Cue Card and Native River, who had headed the market following the withdrawal of stablemate Thistlecrack but can now be backed at 5-1.
Stable form can quickly change - as Mullins showed to devastating effect on Thursday when he saddled a four-timer after suffering some high-profile reverses earlier in the week.
Mullins has won the Triumph Hurdle only once - with Scolardy in 2002 - but Bapaume, one of his two representatives this year, has attracted support in the opening contest and is into 12-1 having been available at a standout 16-1 this morning. Landofhopeandglory, the selection of red-hot Pricewise, has form closely tied with Bapaume and is 10-1 (from 14) for Joseph O'Brien.
Punters have also come for stablemate and last year's Champion Bumper runner-up Battleford, who is into 7-1 (from 9) for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle and could soon be challenging No Comment for favouritism.
Betfair on Wednesday paid out on Gordon Elliott to be champion trainer at the festival after Fayonagh gave him a fifth success at the meeting. However, Mullins is now only one behind and BetVictor make him just a 7-4 chance to win the prize for a fifth year in succession.
Spokesman Jack Milner said: "After yesterday's four-timers, Mullins is now 7-4 to be top trainer and Ruby Walsh 1-12 to be top jockey for a record eighth time."
Ireland currently leads the BetBright Prestbury Cup standings by 14-7.