Trends & Features

Assessing JP McManus’ strong contingent ahead of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival

JP McManus is the most prolific and profitable owner in British and Irish jumps racing history. The man behind the iconic green-and-gold-hooped silks (pictured above) enjoyed his 4,000th winner back in December and despite hitting 70 years of age, is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon with some exciting purchases recently — including Corbetts Cross and A Dream To Share.

Among the dual Grand National-winning owner’s 4,000 winners are a mammoth 69 Cheltenham Festival triumphs — including a record nine Champion Hurdles and a Gold Cup thanks to Synchronised in 2012 — which lands him the incredible honour of the most successful owner in the meeting’s long and storied history as well.

McManus has a fantastic string of horses from yards all over the United Kingdom and Ireland set to ascend upon the hallowed turf of Prestbury Park at this year’s Festival, so let’s take a look at the ones that are the most favoured in the horse racing odds.

Jonbon (6/4) – Arkle Novices’ Chase

The long-time market leader for the Arkle Novices’ Chase on the opening day of the Festival, fan favourite Jonbon lost his favourite tag to El Fabiolo in the weeks building up to the meeting, but has since re-joined his Willie Mullins-trained rival as the joint-favourite for the second race.

The seven-year-old is three for three since switching to fences this year, most notably beating Boothill in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December before surviving a scare to win the Grade 2 Kingmaker at Warwick last month.

It was his unassured performance in the latter that resulted in Irish Arkle winner El Fabiolo leapfrogging him at the fore of the marker. However, his Kingmaker rival Calico went on to win next time out and it was another nice form boost for Jonbon to shorten his odds back to 6/4.

Epatante (7/2) – Mares’ Hurdle

The Mares’ Hurdle is a race that is often overlooked on the opening day card as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Arkle and Champion Hurdle tend to steal the spotlight from the fourth Grade 1 of the fixture.
However, this year’s mares’ contest has the potential to be one for the ages as dual Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle is set to face off against the likes of defending Mares’ Hurdle champion Marie’s Rock and another former Champion Hurdle winner Epatante.

Henderson forgot to enter the nine-year-old earlier in the year, but supplemented her out of his own pocket at the recent declarations and she entered the market as the 7/2 third favourite behind those aforementioned contenders. The nine-year-old did win the Grade 2 Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle last time out however, so has some form going into this race.

A Dream To Share (10/3) – Champion Bumper

One of McManus’ most recent purchases, McManus bought A Dream To Share from breeder and owner Brian Gleeson after the horse’s success in the Grade 2 Future Stars Flat Race at the Dublin Racing Festival (DRF) at Leopardstown in February.

The five-year-old won two flat races under rules in Tipperary and Roscommon last summer, but entered the DRF contest as a 12/1 outsider for trainer John Kiely. And he was pushed along to lead a furlong out by Jamie Gleeson, the son of the owner, to go clear and win by almost three lengths from McManus’ favourite Fact To File.

A Dream To Share has since gone into favourite for the Bumper, overtaking Mullins’ It’s For Me in the market. A win would set him nicely for an exciting career over hurdles and fences in the future.

Impervious – Mares’ Chase

Another short-price favourite for McManus in a graded race, Impervious is hot on the tail of Allegorie De Vassy in the market for the Grade 2 Mares’ Chase. It will be a battle of iconic silks going head-to-head for the title as the pink and green polka-dots of Rich Ricci meet the green and gold hoops of McManus once again.
The market is in the favour of Allegorie De Vassy, who has won both her Grade 2 outings over fences by 19 lengths this season. But Impervious is three for three and has also won at Grade 2 and Grade 3 level.

Other notable entries for McManus include Tekao, who is the 4/1 favourite for the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, Dublin Chase winner Gentleman De Mee (8/1) in the Champion Chase, Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle second and third favourites Thanksforthehelp and Perceval Legallois, Plate Handicap Chase favourite So Scottish and County Handicap Hurdle market leader Filey Bay.

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