The little bit of England that is truly Irish at this time of year plays host to the Cheltenham Festival from Tuesday. There will be plenty of winners and losers and The Sunday Business Post has asked some well-known names to take a punt for charity.
BoyleSports has kindly put up the €100 for each bet, and winnings will go to the Peter McVerry Trust to help combat homelessness.
And BoyleSports is even factoring in a moneyback guarantee to boost the charity pot even further.
Last year, €2,300 was raised for charity, and we hope that a very good cause will be a little better off after the week’s racing thrills.
Here are our Cheltenham watcher’s top picks:
“My money’s on Empire of Dirt, running in the Ryanair chase on Thursday,” Phelan says.
“It’s a horse with a great chance of delivering a first win in this race for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown operation. Michael is a friend and I’d love to see one of his horses make its debut win here.”
The Minister for Social Protection
“My pick is Movewiththetimes,” said Varadkar, possibly with a subtle nod to his Fine Gael leadership bid.
“He is a horse with some nice form and he runs in the first race of the festival, the always competitive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30pm on Tuesday.
“Trained by Paul Nichols and owned by JP McManus, he has run previously at Cheltenham and should run a good race. Hopefully a successful each-way bet!”
Former chief executive of Kerrygold
A thriving bloodstock business owner himself, Brosnan is well placed to have a keen eye here. His choice, he tells us, is Unowhatimeanharry in the Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday.
“I have backed him in his last wins and he is my banker for the festival,” Brosnan says.
Ryanair board member
The consultant and former A&L Goodbody boss is backing Sizing John in the Gold Cup on Friday.
“It’s trained by Jessica Harrington, who trained Moscow Flyer, Jezki and Space Trucker – all Cheltenham winners,” Osborne says.
“He won the Lexus Chase in Leopardstown and I think he’ll win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.”
Chief executive of One51
Jezki in the Stayers’ Hurdle is Walsh’s choice.
“The key to 2014 Champion Hurdler is good ground,” Walsh says. “I like this horse because of its resilience. It has come back from an injury to win well at Navan and while it lost at Gowran Park, I think that at 7/1 it is well priced.”
Co-founder of Cardinal Capital Group
McDermott thinks Petit Mouchoir in the Champion Hurdle Challenge, currently at 6/1, is the horse to watch at this year’s festival.
“She was only beaten by a neck at Aintree last year but since then, has been running very well but don’t be surprised if the odds shorten between now and race day.”
Founder and chief executive, H&K International
Bobbett, an owner himself, will be watching the action firsthand.“I always head to Cheltenham on the Tuesday, and over many years the Irish horses do well,” he says.
“My choice is Bunk Off Early, running in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is a race which Willie Mullins has dominated recently and I think his second string Bunk Off Early is well worth a punt. He has good form, his most recent start resulted in a second in a Grade One at Leopardstown.”
Glanbia chief executive
Talbot has picked a horse trained by one of her neighbours in Piltown, Co Kilkenny – Joseph O’Brien. This is O’Brien’s first Cheltenham as a trainer.
The horse is Ivanovich Gorbatov, running on St Patrick’s Day in the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle.
The keen racing fan is backing Let’s Dance, in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle on Thursday.
“This horse seems to have come on hugely since last year when she was fourth in the Triumph Hurdle, but her odds will be short,” Flynn tells us.
O’Brien works in the business and is a member of the O’Brien racing family.
She’s selected A Genie In a Bottle in the JT McNamara National Hunt Challenge Cup four-mile chase.
“He’s trained by one of the best trainers in the country, Noel Meade, who will have him in great order going to the festival,” O’Brien says.
“He has loads of guts and stamina, all of which he will need in abundance for this testing race. I love that the race is named after JT McNamara, who sadly passed away earlier this year.”
The expert view
Chief executive and founder of BoyleSports
Boyle has picked Djakadam.
“He’s been runner-up twice, but comes into this year’s race fresher and with a far better preparation, having not run since finishing third in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
“With jumping and stamina assured, he will be definitely be thereabouts at the business end of the race, attempting to give champion trainer Willie Mullins his first ever Gold Cup.”