The Triumph Hurdle opens the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. With Sky Bet you can get your money back on the race if your horse finishes 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th. For that purpose, our editor has looked into the race and given his verdict.
Ages Of Man (Anthony McCann, Jonathan Moore) 125/1
More of a flat-bred individual, as a half-brother to Grouhttps://maps.google.com/p 1 winner Victor Ludorum. Originally trained in that sphere by Andre Fabre, but switched to Anthony McCann after just one run. Has looked promising when beaten in two maiden hurdles, but enters a totally different stratosphere here.
Doctor Parnassus (Dan Skelton, Harry Skelton) 20/1
Sprung a minor surprise on his hurdling debut at Ascot although he was very well supported for that contest. He had previously been rated as high as 78 on the flat with David O’Meara, but hurdles look to have improved him further. In a novice hurdle up against older opposition, he raced away from his field at Taunton, scoring readily by nine lengths. While he was expected to win that day, he possesses a turn of foot and could be the best British chance.
Fil Dor (Gordon Elliott, Jack Kennedy) 5/1
Had been favourite for this for many months of this season, shortening significantly after a comprehensive Grade 2 win at Leopardstown just after Christmas. However, his chief rivals for this race had yet to show their hands, as it proved at the Dublin Racing Festival. He was caught flat-footed by Vauban and though he ran on well in second place, he now looks the inferior of that horse, with improvement to come from Willie Mullins’ charge. May still contend, but needs this to turn into a test.
Icare Allen (Willie Mullins, Mark Walsh) 16/1
Rose to some prominence in the ante post markets when winning at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. Was quietly fancied to win the Grade 1 over the same course and distance at the Dublin Racing Festival, but was only fifth to stablemate Vauban. Unlike the majority of competitors in that field, he has had an extra run since, winning easily in Grade 3 company at Fairyhouse. He might well have improved therefore, so could be interesting each-way.
Il Etait Temps (Willie Mullins, Danny Mullins) 10/1
Two French bumper starts for Emmanuel Clayeux hinted that this grey may have some ability and so it has proven. Willie Mullins threw him in at the deep end as he debuted over hurdles in the much aforementioned Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle in February. Despite his inexperience, he ran on strongly for third and that experience can only have improved him. He has six lengths to make up on Vauban in a quick space of time, but given what he was capable of on his first ever run over obstacles, he is very exciting.
Knight Salute (Milton Harris, Paddy Brennan) 16/1
Having been last on his final four starts on the flat, hopes may not have been high for Milton Harris’ charge. However, he has turned that form on the level completely on his head, as he has won all five starts over hurdles. That has included Grade 2s the last thrice, as he has cleaned up top prizes in this country. He may have been slightly fortunate the last twice, but he may well have pulled out more had he faced a greater challenge and he could run a big race.
Koi Dodville (David Pipe, Tom Scudamore) 150/1
Five runs have yielded two wins for connections. That said both of those came over nine months ago in low level affairs last June. Since then, he has met with two defeats at Newton Abbot and was outclassed behind Porticello at Haydock. He shall be again in this.
Lunar Power (Noel Meade, Sean Flanagan) 40/1
Found Fil Dor to be his arch nemesis before the turn of the year. Started off poorly over hurdles at Down Royal, but soon improved greatly, winning well at Punchestown. Then came his two matches with Gordon Elliott’s grey. He was only narrowly denied at Fairyhouse, but despite a 3lb pull, he was beaten more substantially at Leopardstown. He has been freshened up since, but faces a big task to overturn some strong collateral form lines.
Pied Piper (Gordon Elliott, Jack Kennedy) 3/1
Did very well to beat Vauban on debut, doing his job more effectively than Willie Mullins’ charge. Jumping more swiftly, he did the job on heavy ground. Less was expected on a sounder surface against British opponents at Cheltenham, but he proved so far superior to his rivals that he won on the bridle. That put any doubts about his ground versatility to bed and also suggested he is a very exciting juvenile. Whether he can confirm form with Vauban is the big debate of the race.
Porticello (Dan Skelton, Harry Skelton) 14/1
Winner of one of only two Grade 1 juvenile events that occur before the Cheltenham Festival, Dan Skelton’s second runner ran away with the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in December. He had previously been beaten by Knight Salute at Doncaster, but was probably unlucky that day. He was a wide-margin winner at 30/100 at Haydock as a warm up for this and clearly goes on any ground. Could prove dangerous, albeit the British form looks markedly inferior to the Irish.
Teddy Blue (Gary Moore, Josh Moore) 20/1
It would mean a lot for the Moores to secure this race after Goshen’s final flight fall two years ago. He was green and keen on his debut against older horses at Lingfield, but settled much better at Kempton next time. He may have been in receipt of 5lb from the winner Knight Salute, but he travelled into the race like the winner, but flattened the last and had to settle for second. Meeting his conqueror on worse terms makes this a challenge, especially against others with stronger claims.
Vauban (Willie Mullins, Paul Townend) 7/4
The striking chestnut was made favourite at the Dublin Racing Festival on reputation, having not won on his debut. However, his form with Pied Piper was franked no end by that horse at Cheltenham and a smoother jumping performance saw this horse win cosily and storm to the head of the market here. His lack of experience is not seen as a significant barrier given the profiles of recent winners and he looks to have an unmatched chance of winning.
Big Race Verdict
Willie Mullins was fortunate to win his second Triumph Hurdle with Burning Victory two years ago, but he might not need such fortune with VAUBAN who made a very striking impression at Leopardstown. Pied Piper may have beaten him on debut, but there was little to split them and may be booked for second. Doctor Parnassus, Il Etait Temps and Icare Allen would be fancied to battle out the places.