The Triumph Hurdle is the opening race on the final day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, run over a trip of two miles and a furlong for horses aged four.
Katchit became the first winner of the Triumph Hurdle since Kribensis in 1988 to go on and win the Champion Hurdle, when victorious in 2007. Generally speaking the race favours those who end up over longer distances as their careers progress, which can be attributed in part to the sustained gallop in which this race is usually run at, for such young inexperienced horse.
Since the turn of the millennium only one filly has been victorious in the race, and that was the French filly Snow Drop who was successful for Francois Doumen in 2000.
- All 16 of recent Triumph Hurdle winners had their most recent run between 19 and 55 days prior to the Triumph Hurdle.
- There has only been one once-raced hurdler to win the Triumph Hurdle in the last 29 years; that was Zarkandar in 2011.
- 17 of the last 21 Triumph Hurdle winners won their last start prior to the Triumph Hurdle.
Cheltenham 2016 – Triumph Hurdle Contenders
Montjeu (IRE) (11.8f) — Northern Gulch (USA) (Gulch (USA) (9.1f))
Notes: Looked a real class act when account for a well backed Mullins horse on his hurdling debut, a winner of a handicap on the level off 97 when last seen prior to that, he was quickly punted into Triumph Hurdle favouritism after such an impressive display, however the bubble was well and truly burst in spectacular fashion with a real lacklustre display in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown when last seen. He has been regarded in some quarters as ‘soft’ and needs to prove that first effort wasn’t a fluke, and at the current prices looks plenty short enough to me.
Authorized (IRE) — Zaziyra (IRE) (Dalakhani (IRE))
Notes: Would be only the second horse in 29 years to win this race off the back of just one hurdles outing, but is regarded as very much a similar conveyance to Zarkandar who Nicholls successfully did the same thing with in 2011. The manner of his victory is still fresh in the memory and clearly has plenty of ability, with a pedigree hinting that better ground could bring out even further improvement. The booking of Nick Scholfield for me would be a minor negative but it is hard not to like the chances, despite the clear inexperience.
Creachadoir (IRE) (9.6f) — Willamina (IRE) (Sadler´s Wells (USA) (11.4f))
Notes: Winner of the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, a race in which has proven a useful guide for this down the years, and whilst his profile isn’t as sexy as some he has put together a couple of really likeable performances since the turn of the year and the application of the hood seemed to benefit him the last day. Looking back at the tape it looked like Footpad was benefitted from the way the race panned out and whilst you’d expect him to run his race, he is likely to find two or three too good I’d say.
CLAN DES OBEAUX
Kapgarde (FR) — Nausicaa Des Obeaux (FR) (April Night (FR) (9.9f))
Notes: Most likely to be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, and it was the ride by that jockey at Cheltenham which caught my eye in the trial at the end of January. Ridden too forcefully in going for home too soon, he was cut down over the last by the more optimally ridden Protek Des Flos but kept on best of the remainder for second. He has been reported to be working very well in the lead-up to this race and has to be on the shortlist.
FIXE LE KAP
Kapgarde (FR) — Lady Fix (FR) (Turgeon (USA))
Notes: Looks like being the chief runner from the Nicky Henderson camp and it’s fair to say we can forget the more recent effort at the punting graveyard that is Haydock Park, as he probably would have won with a clear run. His previous victory at Warwick was most impressive and forcing tactics on a more galloping and fair track such as Cheltenham will be right up his street – very much a player.
Saint Des Saints (FR) — Montbresia (FR) (Video Rock (FR) (12.1f))
Notes: A winner on his second start in the UK beating a couple of smart rivals in the shape of Rayvin Black and Peace And Co, but it would be unwise to take the value of that form literally as the race essentially fell into his lap with the weight allowance he received from all his rivals. His form ties in closely with Footpad on their French form and looks likely to be playing second or third string amongst the Nicholls juveniles to my eye.
Tommy Silver ran a real promising race when runner-up to the aforementioned Fixe Le Kap on debut Newbury, and didn’t have to improve when a ready winner at Musselburgh when last seen. Hard to see exactly where he is in contention with the chief contenders here but can’t be discounted.
Protek Des Flos won the Triumph Hurdle Trial over this C&D in January but arguably benefitted from the race falling into his lap when Clan Des Obeaux duelled for home too soon with Who Dares Wins, whilst he too is also open to improvement, some of which was evidenced with his follow-up win at Sandown, he doesn’t strike me as the type that will excel in this sphere.
Leoncavallo hasn’t been spotted since unseating at the last when locked in a battle with Sceau Royal in December. Hasn’t been seen since but was 5-5 previous over hurdles, but the lack of a recent run a big negative.
Who Dares Wins has been hotly touted as the best juvenile that Alan King has this year, especially around the preview evenings, but in my opinion was beaten on merit by Clan Des Obeaux at Cheltenham when the pair met. His trainer knows exactly what it takes to win this race so he couldn’t be completely discounted but he looks short enough at the prices available.
Let’s Dance did all the hard work at Leopardstown in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle on her most recent start, which enabled stable-mate Footpad to pick her up in the home straight. The manner in which she stuck to her task in the closing stages was most eye-catching, and a large field with a sustained gallop where she can be switched off could be right up her street. She’ll need to overcome the stats against fillies in this race but certainly shouldn’t be written off just yet.
Sceau Royal hasn’t run a bad race since joining the Alan King yard, and has strung together three wins on the bounce. Whilst he’ll need to find further improvement there is nothing to suggest he isn’t capable of doing that, and in my eyes is the chief hope of the Barbury Castle string, not their stable-mate.
It was hard not to be disappointed with Gibralfaro at Kempton when readily brushed aside by Zubayr. He had previously looked good with two wins from two, including the scalp of Connetable (although he was regarded as needing the run at Ascot). It has been rumoured in the press that Alan King and connections are considering the application of the visor to Gibralfaro, something which King did to much success last year with Uxizandre in the Ryanair Chase, it also managed to squeeze a few more pounds improvement from Karezak so that’s worth keeping an eye on.
At the head of the market I can’t possibly entertain Ivanovich Gorbatov at the current available prices as that last run was too bad to be true, and appears priced purely on reputation despite a promising opening effort over hurdles.
Zubayr was most impressive at Kempton and is following the same route mapped out by Nicholls as Zarkandar did en-route to success in 2011. His pedigree suggests he’ll likely improve for better ground and has to be regarded as a strong contender.
Sceau Royal is certainly the main hope for Alan King from what I’ve read in the form, despite what most are saying about Who Dares Wins but I can’t really see either of them winning, a place wouldn’t be a surprise for the gelded son of Doctor Dino though.
Footpad was the winner of the Spring Juvenile Hurdle but I feel that Let’s Dance emerges with the most credit out of the two. Helping force a strong pace throughout, she likeably stuck to her task on the run-in and almost got back up for second, whereas Footpad was more optimally ridden on the day.
Clan Des Obeaux looks likely to go offer shorter than the current prices available, but the more I look at this the more I feel the value could well lie with LET’S DANCE and she can make it a long overdue win for the fillies.
I loved the way she travelled throughout her last outing, she was taken on for the lead some way out by Jer’s Girl who she managed to beat off by over 7 lengths at the line. She turned into the home straight still on the bridle but looked green when put under pressure as the challenges came down her outside. As they jumped the last Ruby eased up on Let’s Dance which then saw her step at the flight, losing a length or so in the process before switching around the eventually second and running on most takingly in the closing stages.
Whilst this is a different ball game all together, the larger field should enable her pilot to get cover in amongst the field, and she should know an awful lot more for that most recent run.