The Cheltenham Festival is now less than three weeks away and the Irish dreams of securing another Prestbury Cup may be a reality in less than a month’s time.
Britain’s counterparts from across the sea have landed four of the last five editions of the trophy, the inaugural running of which arrived back in 2014.
In 2019, both nations enjoyed 14 successes each and so for the first time, Prestbury Park was donned in both a tri-colour and Union Jack in equal measure.
Ireland sauntered to a 17-10 success last year, though – claiming six victories on the final day.
Easysland demolition job in the Cross Country Chase meant France claimed a single success.
But who can land the odds for Mullins, Elliot and co in 2021?
We’ve made our selections.
Appreciate It – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Last year’s Champion Bumper runner-up has made light work in his three starts over hurdles, landing two Grade 1s in the form of the Future Champions Novice Hurdle and the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle.
The seven-year-old looks the one to beat in this contest and could well give Willie Mullins a record-extending seventh win in the race.
Energumene – Irish Arkle
A rapid progressor for the Mullins yard, Energumene announced himself as an exciting novice chaser when bolting up by 18 lengths in a beginners chase at Gowran Park in November.
With another commanding success at Naas in January, he continued to impressive with a comfortable 10-length victory in the Irish Arkle Chase at Leoparstown earlier in the month.
He has emerged as a real threat to Shishkin to in the Arkle at the Festival.
Honeysuckle – Champion Hurdle
The Irish Supermare heads to Cheltenham to take on the British Supermare.
The unbeaten Honeysuckle made it ten wins on ten races under rules and the seven-year-old makes the trip to Gloucestershire in hope of dethroning Epatante in the Champion Hurdle.
Henry De Bromhead’s star has proven her star quality and could well see off Nicky Henderson’s mare here.
Monkfish – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase
Winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle last season, Monkfish has made major strides since transitioning to fences.
His last outing was arguably his most impressive performance to date, winning by 11 lengths in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival.
With his fluent jumping and quick pace, it will take something special to beat Willie Mullins’ talent.
Chacun Pour Soi – Champion Chase
Another star of Willie Mullins, Chacun Pour Soi will make his Cheltenham bow in the Champion Chase after being scratched from the race at the 11th hour last year.
He heads back to Gloucestershire in sparkling form, with the nine-year-old winning all three of his starts, including two Grade 1s.
The gelding is clearly the one to beat in this contest.
Envoi Allen – Marsh Novices’ Chase
An exciting talent from Gordon Elliott’s yard, Envoi Allen returns to Prestbury Park looking for a third Festival success.
The seven-year-old has impressed over fences, winning comfortably on all three starts over the larger obstacles.
He is still yet to taste defeat on his eleven starts under rules, and it could well continue here.
Al Boum Photo – Gold Cup
A meeting with destiny lies in wait for Al Boum Photo at Cheltenham.
After breaking Willie Mullins’ Gold Cup hoodoo two years ago, the nine-year-old made it back-to-back successes in the contest last season.
He returns to Prestbury Park with the chance of winning three consecutive Gold Cups, joining the racing elites of Arkle, Best Mate, Cottage Rake and Golden Miller.
A race that cannot be missed.