Cheltenham Festival ante-post tips: Icare Allen the value bet in Triumph Hurdle

Icare Allen rates the value at this stage in the Triumph Hurdle ante-post markets.Icare Allen rates the value at this stage in the Triumph Hurdle ante-post markets.

2022 Triumph Hurdle Antepost Preview

After the build-up to the Cotswold Chase and the Cleeve Hurdle, it was the Triumph Hurdle Trial which stole the headlines on Cheltenham Trials Day. Runaway winner Pied Piper not only reminded us how strong the Irish are in the novice department, he was so impressive that he dislodged long-time favourite and stablemate Fil Dor in the ante-post betting. With most leading bookmakers now offering NRNB on the Cheltenham Festival, we take a look at how the Triumph betting is shaping up.

Pied Piper cut to 5-2 after Cheltenham romp

Pied Piper began his racing career in the colours of Her Majesty The Queen and was trained at Newmarket by John Gosden. He got off the mark in a maiden in heavy ground at his local course, adding a ten-furlong Leicester handicap (officially rated 89) in October last year. He was then sold and put into training with Gordon Elliott.

He made his debut at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve where he started second favourite behind the much-touted Vauban, trained by Willie Mullins. He pulled quite hard in the hands of Davy Russell and was allowed to take up the running after the fourth last. Vauban gave chase but a mistake at the last stopped his momentum and a renewed challenge failed by half a length.

Pied Piper looked to have a more difficult task at Cheltenham but he settled well before cruising into contention. The disappointment of the race was Iceo, so impressive on his debut for Paul Nicholls at Kempton. He was soon being scrubbed along and Pied Piper strode clear to win by 9 lengths without having to be asked a serious question. He was immediately cut to a top price 4-1 for the Triumph Hurdle but that price quickly disappeared, displacing Fil Dor as the new favourite at 5-2.

Unbeaten Fil Dor ready for Leopardstown test

Fil Dor races in the same colours as Pied Piper and has won all three starts over hurdles. The grey was particularly impressive when winning the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. Jockey Davy Russell rates Fil Dor very highly and the horse heads back to Leopardstown for Saturday’s Spring Juvenile Hurdle. He could clash with Vauban and another smart Mullins-trained four-year-old in Icare Allen.

Icare Allen is a French import owned by JP McManus and put up a very stylish performance on his debut. He jumped well and tracked the leaders into the home straight before leading approaching the last and pulled three lengths clear when shaken up on the run-in. The form of that race has not been franked but the son of Cokoriko looks to have a touch of class.

The British challenge looks suspect after the way some promising types were brushed aside by Pied Piper. Gary Moore’s Porticello, impressive winner of the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, is the shortest priced home-trained runner at 16-1. He had previously been out-pointed by Knight Salute (generally available at 20-1) at Doncaster.

Unless something bursts on to the scene in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton, it looks as though the Triumph Hurdle will be heading to Ireland for the seventh time in the last ten years. The picture will become clearer after the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. If there is any value left in the ante-post market, it could be the 12-1 (NRNB) Icare Allen with Betfred.