Scottish Daily Mail

School of hard knocks giving Irish stars the edge in battle with Brits

- MIKE DICKSON at Cheltenham

HALF-TIME in the Ireland v GB Prestbury Cup at Cheltenham and it is 10-4 to the visitors after 14 races. With only three British favourites over the remaining two days it might yet end up as the kind of scoreline which faces England’s rugby players in Dublin this weekend. A summing up of the Emerald Isle’s now-annual superiorit­y came in yesterday’s final race, the Festival Bumper, won by A Dream To Share, ridden by 18-year-old John Gleeson. Gleeson had taken a week off school to come over. Another emblem of the shift of fortunes came in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. One of England’s contenders of the day, Hermes Allen, was left flounderin­g in the wake of the Willie Mullins-trained Impaire et Passe. The winner belongs to the Anglo-American duo of internatio­nal financiers Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. They are two of the sport’s heaviest and most astute investors and have gradually shifted their best horses across the Irish Sea. New York-based Souede said: ‘Everything in life has a cyclicalit­y to it, and the cycle will turn eventually but for the next few years it will be difficult to turn that cycle around because of the quality of the young Irish horses. ‘In terms of success the Irish racing programme is more concentrat­ed so they take themselves on in a much harder way, it’s constant competitio­n. There are less meets per week (in Britain) so it is going to be harder. ‘It’s not like we have a tenyear masterplan, it’s where we find the best chance to be successful. We have some pretty good British horses but our younger horses are in Ireland so it’s going to stay this way with us for a while.’ Even one of the English victors, 8-1 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase winner The Real Whacker, is Irish-owned and trained in Yorkshire by Irishman Patrick Neville. ‘I trained in Ireland for 15 years,’ said Neville. ‘I made the move because I couldn’t get any owners in Ireland.’

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