Cheltenham '10: Triumph Hurdle

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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.

Mille Chief
4-y-o Gelding
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.

Carlito Brigante
4-y-o Gelding
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.

Secant Star
4-y-o Gelding
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.

4-y-o Gelding
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.

4-y-o Gelding
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.

Sang Bleu
4-y-o Gelding
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
4-y-o Gelding
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.

1pt win – Carlito Brigante @ 9-1 with Ladbrokes
0.5pt win – Notus De La Tour @ 25-1 with Ladbrokes or PaddyPower
0.25pt e/w – Point Of Light @ 50-1 with PaddyPower or William Hill or Bet365

One of many racing enthusiasts around the globe, love both flat and national hunt racing. Part-own a racehorse, and used to be involved in a couple of slow greyhounds around the Romford circuit. Favourite NH horses would be; Kauto Star, Denman, Challenger Du Luc, Monsignor, Guitar Pete, Harchibald, Istabraq - the list is effectively endless.... @OHRacing Google+


  1. Would have to go with Notus De La Tour myself. If you look at his form and then compare it to those higher up the betting & then factor in his current price of 25/1 you have to get involved.

    I just hope they dont go Imperial Cup, Fred Winter route like they did with Gaspara a couple of seasons ago.

  2. Notus De La Tour was one in which I’d alluded to above as holding solid claims should he run in this race. The proximity of his form on a line through Menorah (who would be half his current price) for the Supreme Novices had Dunguib not been entered makes his 25/1 price look huge.

    I do however wonder though that they might try and do the Imperial Cup – Fred Winter route with him, similar to what they did with Gaspara and tried to do with Ashkazar.

  3. Cant see past Mille Chief myself like, has done absolutely nothing wrong so far and was winning when king’s horses were out of form. Think he still has plenty of improvement in him and hes a very exciting horse with a touch of real class.

  4. I’m going to take my chances, EW most likely, with Secant Star. He learned from his first effort over the timber. It was a work ride the second time in Gowran, where Ruby didn’t have to touch him in bottomless ground, and wasn’t even blowing when he passed me, so he’ll get the trip and stay up the hill. If his heart is in it, and not intimidated by the more experienced horses, he’ll be very close.

  5. Have to side with Mille Chief here, as Richard has eluded to, he looked a star when the rest of Alan King’s horses were way off the pace. He’s been impressive to date and looks a class above.
    Notus De La Tour should indeed be a shorter price on what he has done to date and will be a small each way bet for me too.

  6. They have said he’s going straight to the festival I believe. Not that, that would rule out the handicap but he’d be 4Ibs higher than Gaspara. Mind you, you could interpret that as being an indication that they don’t want to risk him being raised further and a tilt at the Fred Winter. David Pipe has of course thrown a few strange targets in recent years. Torphichen was sent to the Supreme instead of the Triumph, and Osana the County hurdle instead of the Supreme

  7. I thought the move of running Torphichen in the Supreme Novices was an odd one, given he was qualified to run in the Triumph. One can only imagine that he was in benefit of some sort of weight allowance for being a 4yo in the race.

    Upon looking it appears that was the case, as 4yo’s get a handy 8lb allowance against their elders in the Supreme, not that, that is enough anyway in the context of the race.

    He hasn’t really amounted to much either since, perhaps that run has finished him – who knows.

  8. Have looked at this race and have found myself still scratching my head. Secant Star looked impressive last time, but so had Mille Chief in his wins.

    Carlito Brigante might have been impressive last time but he hasn’t exactly beat much other than Alaivan who himself is questionable over the obstacles and always pulls too hard in his races.

    A race to leave alone or take a view about an outsider imo


  9. Can’t seem to get a handle on this race and have looked through it a couple of times now. If I were to plump for one, would be Mille Chief but no bet for me in this.

  10. Mille Chief will be my biggest fancy of this years festival, barring the mighty Kauto Star. Looks a class class act.

  11. Until he proves otherwise, I’m afraid he’d be one I’d be against.

    2 mile Novice races at the festival tend to be run lickety spit. People often make the mistake of thinking these are speed dependent when in actual fact stamina is the key to winning them. Or to be more precise, the ability to keep hammering out section after section at speed (stamina by any other name). There are a number of visually impressive performances every year where a horse uses a devastating burst of acceleration off a modest pace to win by 10+ lengths and they invariably earn rave reviews and a prominent place in the betting. The problem of course, is that come the festival, the horse won’t be asked to win a race in this fashion (or very rarely anyway). Essentially you’re backign a horse to do something he has hitherto not advertised his ability to do. Or to think of it another way, you’re invoking one piece of evidence that will bear little resemblence to what he’s asked to now do. The first time these horses get asked to sustain a firm gallop from the tapes to the line, then they’re going into unknown territory, and to many of them, it can come as a shock to the system. That’s not to say they can’t do it, it’s just that they haven’t as yet proven they can do it, and the percentage call is to side with something that has, rather than something that might (especially as the something that might is normally at a prohibitively short price). I remember earning the wrath of few people for suggesting that neither Mister Hight or Sweet Wake would even place in the Triumph and Supreme a few years ago, and flagging up Detroit City and Straw Bear as the more likely candidates to win and move into open company. Similarly Clopf, (although he got injured and never got the chance to prove me right) would have been another. Ebaziyan won a very slow Supreme and was another i didn’t think would make the jump into open compnay. There’s no shortage of ‘jog and sprint’ merchants and although some might prove me wrong, my experience has been that you’re better off avoiding them.

    I tend to think the Triumph is one race that actually lends itself to using Topspeed thus, as the only way you can run a fast time is over the whole course distance, and not by simply jogging round and then sprinting the final 3F’s. The latter will only result in a slow to moderate time albeit that any winner under these circumstances will have advertised their ability to accelerate off a slow pace (shame they’re going to be required to accelerate off a fast pace).

    Since the advent of the Fred Winter the Triumph has become more winnable with an average SP of about 11/2 as opposed to 12/1. The best TS figure recorded by the winners going into the race has also risen.

    Zaynar = 133
    Celestial Halo = 131
    Katchit = 135
    Detroit City = 124 (I’d dispute this one and had him much higher)
    Penzance = 110

    Before that you had some poor winners like;

    Made In Japan = 101
    Spectroscope = 105
    Scolardy – didn’t earn a rating?

    Albeit; katarino 136, Snow Drop 123, Upgrade 134 and Paddys Return 135 were all in the zone

    As thinks stand at the moment, only Carlito Brigante on 128 has surpassed the 125 mark. Pistolet Noir on 120, Advisor 124 and Barizan 125 are on the radar, even if their position in the market doesn’t necessarily reflect it yet (I’m half wondering if the latter might take in the Fred Winter yet). I’m slightly amused by the money for Alavian after the weekend to be honest. So far he’s managed 115 (I actually make it slightly lower) as he’s won a pretty facile race that belies its status, and beat nothing that had any significant form claim to assess him off, in what was little more than an archetypal jog and sprint affair in Ireland. When subjected to a quicker pace Carlito Brigante handed him a fair old beating. Carlito Brigante has gone faster still since (Musselburgh) and yet hasnt been shortend up despite holding Alavian on the book with a bit to spare (about 12L’s I think?). Mille Chief is only on 112 and needs to step up on that at kempton in the Adonis. If he does? then fair play, he can join the party, but at this stage he looks very vulnerable to me. One also detects that Alan King is sending out mixed messages too. He’s desperate to get this run into him and seems to know he needs it. He’s sounding increasingly anxious to me about something.

    I should perhaps say though that failure produce a fast time in prep is no guarantee that a horse can’t do it when asked to. It’s just that in siding with those that have, you’re backign a degree of proven ability rather than potential

  12. I’m at a loss to understand this book!!!

    Bookies are sometimes accussed of trying to generate a false favourite to draw money on to them etc I can’t for the life of me see what Alaivan has done to merit favouritism. There’s a couple of tenuous lines which give him a verdict over the likes of Pittoni, but Carla Bruni has beaten him fair and square, and without being extended either

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