The Triumph Hurdle is a race run for four-year-old novices run over a total distance of two miles and one furlong. The race is run on the final day of the Festival and opens the Gold Cup day of The Festival.
With this race being for four-year-olds only, it has often pointed to inexperience to being a problem in the past. Although in recent years with more horses coming off the flat to contest this race it has been less of an issue.
2007 victor, Katchit, was the first winner of this race since Kribensis in 1988 to go on to win the Champion Hurdle. On the whole, most winners tend to need much longer trips as their careers progress. Paddy’s Return, for example, became a top class staying hurdler, Katarino won the Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree over 2m 5½f two years in a row and, most notably of all, Commanche Court won the Irish National and was placed in a Gold Cup.
A few key stats worth taking on board for this race are:
13 of the last 15 winners won last time out.
11 of the last 16 winners started in the first 4 in the betting.
15 of the last 16 winners had won at least twice.
At this distance and class you can usually single out a handful of real contenders which is usually horses with experience off the flat (or French bred) and rate prominently in the betting market.
With a few bubbles already been burst over timber this season, it should be an interesting renewal of the big four-year-old showpiece and hopefully I’ve got the winner for you.
Ski Chief (USA) (11.0f) — Mille Flora (IRE) (Be My Guest (USA) (10.1f))
Notes: Has so far looked pretty decent on his two completed starts after being brought down on his much anticipated hurdling debut. The same connections had a useful horse in Walkon who went a very close second in this race last year but I can’t help but think that despite his two victories to date over timber he is a little short in the betting market for such a tough race.
Haafhd (9.0f) — Desert Magic (IRE) (Green Desert (USA) (7.9f))
Notes: Has gone pretty much under the radar until his impressive success in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh last weekend. A fair sort on the flat hovering around the 70s, he has transformed after a below-par debut in heavy ground over hurdles. A very easy winner over the highly regarded Alaivan next at Leopardstown in the Grade 2 Juvenile Novices Hurdle, he then dispatched of his rivals in electric fashion at Musselburgh last weekend. At the present stage this looks the most likely winner to me, he is battle hardened and has clearly shown a liking for better ground (something which he’ll get on the last day) and is bound to be bang there.
Passing Sale (FR) (12.0f) — Effet De Star (FR) (Grand Tresor (FR ) )
Notes: Fell on his hurdling debut, but made amends in taking style last time out drawing clear and winning easily by seven wickets. However one thing that worries me is his lack of racing experience and with him falling already, perhaps the hustle and bustle of the Triumph Hurdle might be too much for him at this stage? He is currently a 10/1 best priced chance with Ladbrokes and William Hill, and at those odds I’d rather look elsewhere.
Kalanisi (IRE) (11.8f) — Alaya (IRE) (Ela-Mana-Mou (12.3f))
Notes: Quite possibly the classiest flat recruit on offer in this race but the way he was put in his place by Carlito Brigante last time gives me no real reason to suggest he can reverse the form at Cheltenham. His trainer Edward O’Grady suggests the horse often runs a little ‘keen’ and didn’t enjoy being taken on for the lead the last day, and I don’t think you can get away running like this at Cheltenham so he’ll need to learn to settle. Undoubtedly has the potential to be a classy recruit, but at 12/1 (PaddyPower) isn’t one which catches my eye.
Peintre Celebre (USA) (10.4f) — Key Change (IRE) (Darshaan (11.7f))
Notes: Still an entire and the Charles Byrnes trained colt has done nothing wrong over hurdles to date, and has improved with each start. Last time out he showed a decent turn of foot to put the race to bed over the Noel Meade trained Cross Appeal (sporting the first-time headgear) and put himself firmly in the Triumph Hurdle picture. A decent recruit on the flat winning off a mark of 86, he ended his campaign on a mark of 95 and with that experience and his three victories over hurdles he looks to be a major player. Generally a 16/1 chance.
Lavirco (GER) — Formosa (FR) (Royal Charter (FR ) (12.0f))
Notes: Rumours are this wasn’t quite right when second at Chepstow well beaten, and there has been some market support for this Paul Nicholls inmate over the last couple of days. Royal Mix is another interesting recruit from the Paul Nicholls stable, and rumours are abound that Pistolet Noir isn’t even the best in the Nicholls bunch. Sang Bleu is available at 33/1 with Betfred and should run a decent race in the Triumph all being well.
Notus De La Tour
Kutub (IRE) — Ridiyla (IRE) (Akarad (FR ) (10.8f))
Notes: Has some solid formlines over in France and finished his French campaign with a facile twenty length success over Spring Silver (who has since come out and won). He then came to England to David Pipe and put away the highly touted Nicky Henderson runner Ranjobaie, who has since won decisively over 19f at Market Rasen, beating Bygones Of Brid who has solid form in the book. The Triumph Hurdle looks an ideal race for this French bred who doesn’t lack for experience nor stamina and he is overpriced at 25/1 (Ladbrokes or PaddyPower) amongst others.
This is definitely one of the toughest races to go through to try and find a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, however if sometimes you give it a go, you may just find that winner. I’ve come to a decision that CARLITO BRIGANTE is the horse to be with, he’s improving rapidly and the better ground will work to his advantage, no stamina issues and should be half the price he is now. Of the remainder there has been some good money for the unraced Super Kenny, and the others I have already mentioned all have solid chances, however one worth a small shekel is the Paul Nolan trained Point Of Light. A former smart flat recruit for Sir Mark Prescott, he is unraced over hurdles thus far but is race-hardened and collected a 6-timer on the flat during the summer over middle distance trips – so stamina is assured. He has a hurdling date pencilled in for the 13th Feb at Gowran Park and should he win that impressively, then the 50/1 (General) on offer wont be around for long and is worth a chance at those odds. Another worth adding into the antepost mix would be Notus De La Tour for the David Pipe team who looks vastly overpriced at 25/1 based on his achievements to date.