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McConnell is Ireland’s secret weapon at Cheltenham


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Irish trainer is in front of high-profile handlers Mullins and Elliott when it comes to winners at the home of UK jump racing

Reflect for a moment on Irish stables’ dominance at Cheltenham in recent years and Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead may well be the first trainers that spring to mind. In terms of their strike-rate at the home of jumping, though, all three are several lengths adrift of John McConnell, who trains a significantly smaller string in County Meath but has still saddled an impressive nine winners from his last 41 runners at the track.

That total includes his first winner at the Festival meeting – Seddon, a 20-1 shot, in the ultra-competitive Plate eight months ago – as well as three wins from eight starters at the October meeting last year. As a result, shrewd punters will look long and hard at McConnell’s select team of horses for the track’s valuable three-day November meeting, including Kinbara, a runner in the Grade Two novice hurdle which is one of the feature events on Friday’s opening card.

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