Cheltenham Festival 2017: Former cricketer and professional funny man Phil Tufnell, and Irish TV personality Hector Ó hEochagáin have been named respective Great Britain and Ireland captains for the BetBright Cup 2017.

The BetBright Cup 2017 (formerly the Prestbury Cup) is awarded to the country with the greatest number of Cheltenham Festival winners. After Great Britain won a narrow victory in 2015, last year the teams couldn’t be separated and it ended in a stalemate on the final day, though a subsequent disqualification gave Ireland a 15-13 advantage.

“The Cheltenham Festival is an incredibly exciting time for all British and Irish racing fans,” said BetBright Chairman Rich Ricci. “The competition between the two nations has rarely been tighter than it was last year. This year, there’s no doubt the Irish side will be up against it but I don’t think Hector will lose faith.

“The BetBright Cup is a fun complement to the serious sport on the track, allowing racing fans to get behind their country’s contenders throughout the week. We have made a change to the format this year whereby we will be making a donation of £10,000 to the Injured Jockeys Fund on behalf of the winning captain.”

Phil Tufnell, affectionately known as ‘Tuffers’, enjoyed an illustrious career with England before becoming a regular face on British TV as a captain on a Question of Sport, a contestant with two left feet on Strictly Come Dancing and King of the Jungle on I’m a Celebrity.

The owner of numerous racehorses and a passionate Cheltenham fan, Phil is looking forward to taking Hector on and reckons the GB team are too strong for the Irish contingent.

Phil commented: “I love The Festival and am thrilled to be back this year as the Great Britain captain for the BetBright Cup. Both sides have lost a number of defending champions in recent weeks, and I’ve no doubt Hector is preparing the excuses as we speak, but I am banking on a few of our own super subs as well as the superstar Altior to keep the title at home.”

Hector Ó hEochagáin is unquestionably one of Ireland’s biggest racing fans and was devastated on the final day last year with how GB clawed their way back into contention and managed to sneak a draw.

“It was a Paul Nicholls smash and grab there’s no question, a couple of exceptional wins on the last day and he snatched the BetBright Cup from our fingers. We’re up against it this year there’s no question but if we win a few key battles we could certainly be in contention.”

 

Sarah Elsley

Sarah Elsley is a freelance editor and proofreader who is the Junior News Editor for Eclipse magazine. She has a degree in English Literature and is a keen horse rider with an interest in fashion at the races and fiction writing.