Porticello Triumph Hurdle victory would be sweet for Goshen team
There have been few more dramatic moments in recent Cheltenham history than Goshen’s defeat in the 2019 Triumph Hurdle. With the race at his mercy, he stumbled on landing over the final flight and unseated Jamie Moore. The Moore family have another leading contender for the race this year in Porticello, although they insist that he is too good to risk unless there is plenty of give in the ground. We look at his prospects of providing a heart-warming success for the Moore’s on Gold Cup day 2022.
The pain of Goshen defeat still fresh in the memory
Although jockey Jamie Moore must have wished the ground would swallow him up that day back in 2019, there was nothing but sympathy across the racing world. Willie Mullins ended up winning the race with Burning Victory but felt it inappropriate to celebrate much. Bookmaker Paddy Power even refunded bets on Goshen as a gesture of good will.
Goshen had done enough to be installed at around 6-1 for the following year’s Champion Hurdle but his career has followed an erratic trajectory ever since. Gary Moore rightly feels that some of the criticism of the horse for his Champion Hurdle failures has been unjust and he was glowing with pride after the horse won a second Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last weekend. Cheltenham is not on the agenda for Goshen but there are plenty of other top prizes for him to chase. Indeed, it is very possible that we will see him over fences next season.
In the meantime, the spotlight turns to stable companion Porticello who hardly turned a hair in strolling to victory at a muddy Haydock Park. Moore has always liked the horse and he got off the mark on his debut at Wetherby where he started a well-backed favourite.
Porticello can overturn Doncaster form with Knight Salute
His next race was the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster where he again started favourite. He was a reluctant leader that day and a couple of mistakes up the home straight did not help his cause, eventually being run out of it by Knight Salute in a slow time.
Porticello was a different proposition on softer ground at Chepstow in December when comfortably landing the Grade 1 Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle. His eight and a half lengths victory highlighted his Triumph Hurdle claims but Moore has always been keen to play down the need to go to Cheltenham. He sees the horse as a future chaser and doesn’t want to see him getting knocked around in juvenile races.
That being said, his presence combined with the heavy ground frightened off the opposition for the Victor Ludorum Hurdle at Haydock. Victory was never in doubt, strolling home 17 lengths ahead of Skycutter. He had to win that race comfortably if he was to pose a serious threat to the Irish in the Triumph Hurdle but it is impossible to knock him.
There was also a sense that the lure of Cheltenham is gradually wearing Moore down and he is now leaning towards the Triumph. He will run there so long as the going is good to soft or softer. The 12-1 (NRNB) with Paddy Power makes plenty of appeal, even if he has to mix it with the likes of Pied Piper, Fil Dor and Vauban.